Wootton HS student Andrea Ye's arrest could serve as mental health 'wake-up call': Elrich

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said the arrest of 18-year-old Wootton High School student Andrea Ye for allegedly planning to commit a school shooting could serve as a mental health ‘wake-up call."

"We know that Andrea struggled with significant mental health challenges, including homicidal and suicidal ideation over an extended period," Elrich said at a press conference with Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones and others several days after Ye was arrested. "And I hope one of the things that comes out of this is a look back at how early did we know that he was expressing suicidal and homicidal ideation, and when did we begin intervening?"

Police say Ye, who is from Rockville and whose preferred name is Alex Ye, is accused of planning to commit a school shooting after investigators reviewed his writings and other materials, including internet searches and messages.

READ MORE: Wootton High School student arrested for planning shooting said he wanted to 'be famous': police

The writings, which the teen called a memoir, spanned 129 pages and included an account of a character who plans a school shooting but ultimately is taken into custody and then receives psychiatric treatment, according to investigators.

"He clearly had mental health issues, and I think it would be worth our while to figure out when could we have known, or when should we have possibly intervened," Elrich continued. "We may have intervened at the right time, but at a very late time in the process. Hopefully this will lead us to look deeper into what we do for mental health support."

He has been charged with threats of mass violence and is currently being held at the Montgomery County Central Processing Unit where he awaits a bond hearing Friday.

"It’s kind of a statement of the state of mental health within this country. There are just not adequate facilities or practitioners to deal with the mental health issues that exist in our community," Elrich said.

"Hopefully, it inspires people to make more investments in the mental health of our community, because I think we’ve identified this as a lacking space for a long time. This could be a wake-up call that we need to take it more seriously now."

Elrich also expressed gratitude for the person who came forward to report Ye’s unusual behaviors. "The chief talked about ‘See Something, Say Something.’ This person ‘Saw Something, and Said Something’ and that’s really important."

"We don’t know where we would be today if that person hadn’t come forward and told us what they had seen."

Elrich also mentioned Ye’s frustration at the state’s gun laws being uncovered during the investigation. "Maryland has some of the strictest gun laws and it may be a helpful thing that he found our gun laws an impediment to getting armed."

"People always like to think about what difference does it make? This could well be a case where the difficulty to get guns prevented him from getting the gun when he wanted it and possibly prevented him from acting as soon as he preferred to act."

Montgomery County Public Schools officials said that Ye was completing schoolwork through a virtual learning program and that he had not "physically attended an MCPS school since the fall of 2022."

The Associated Press say court records show the teen was hospitalized in December 2022 after threatening to "shoot up a school," and the following month clinicians reported that the teen was talking about "suicide by cop."

The Associated Press contributed to this report