Maryland County School Officials Sued by Victim’s Family for Not Preventing School Shooting

Maryland County School Officials Sued by Victim’s Family for Not Preventing School Shooting

In response to a school shooting in January, the family of a Maryland high school student has filed a civil lawsuit against Montgomery County and its board of education.

The lawsuit, which was reported by Bethesda Beat, holds Maryland county school officials and leaders responsible for not preventing the shooting of DeAndre Thomas, who suffered life-threatening injuries at Col. Zadok Magruder High School and has since undergone multiple surgeries. It specifically cites the removal of resource officers from county schools during “a significant increase” in gun violence across the county as one of the reasons the shooting took place.

On January 21, a fight broke out in a Magruder school bathroom when 17-year-old Steven Alston Jr. assembled and shot Thomas, who was 15 at the time, with a “ghost gun.”

According to attorneys, Thomas was rushed to the hospital with a bullet wedged in his side, per Fox 5 DC, and that the bullet caused severe damage to his left pelvis and lower intestine. He had to undergo nine surgeries, prolonged intubation, sepsis, and kidney failure which has contributed to approximately $350,000 in hospital costs.

Last month, Alston, who was charged as an adult, pled guilty to attempted first-degree murder for the attack and is awaiting his sentence.

The 13-page document, filed in the Montgomery County Circuit Court, cites previous incidents, including a student bringing a loaded gun to Wheaton High School, in illustrating the rise of violence throughout county schools after the removal of officers were assigned by the Montgomery Council.

Additionally, the suit argues that Thomas was “deprived of his right to be free from physical assaults and attacks, and other physical, psychological and emotional harm” and was “deprived of his right to a free and appropriate public education” under Maryland law.

“We are limited in what we can say due to pending litigation. However, we respect the families right to pursue their legal options,” said Jessica M. Baxter, the director of public information for Montgomery County Public Schools, told Bethesda Beat.

“MCPS remains committed to supporting the Magruder community following the tragic events that occurred on Jan. 21,” Baxter added, according to DCist. “We had a November community meeting that followed months of additional listening sessions with staff and families affected by this incident. We continue to engage with the Magruder community and remain steadfast in prioritizing safety and wellness across our school system.”