Records show troubled life for accused Md. shooter
TOWSON, Md. (AP) – The teenager accused of shooting an intellectually disabled classmate at a suburban Maryland high school was accustomed to firearms in the home and had endured his parents’ contentious divorce, court documents show.
After 15-year-old Robert Wayne Gladden Jr. was taken into custody Monday, police executed a search warrant at the Kingsville home where he lives with his mother and stepfather. What they found, according to court documents: 11 guns, including shotguns, rifles, a 9mm handgun and two antique pistols.
Police also found a spent rifle casing in Gladden’s bedroom and collected “miscellaneous live ammunition” from the master bedroom where most of the guns were found. Police also recovered marijuana.
A bail review hearing for Gladden, who has been charged as an adult with attempted murder and assault, was postponed Wednesday afternoon because the teen was still at a state psychiatric hospital where he was sent for an evaluation. He is being held without bail, and a new hearing was not immediately scheduled.
According to Baltimore County police, the pale, long-haired sophomore used a shotgun to fire at random in the cafeteria of Perry Hall High School Monday morning. Daniel Borowy, a 17-year-old who classmates say has Down syndrome, was shot in the back and critically wounded.
Gladden’s attorney said his client brought the shotgun to school to intimidate bullies and did not intend to shoot anyone. Police have said bullying was not a motive for the shooting.
Court documents indicate Gladden had a troubled home life. His parents were involved in contentious divorce proceedings that stretched over four years and included custody disputes. Documents show his father was behind more than $8,400 on his child support payments.
Gladden’s 41-year-old father, Robert W. Gladden, also has a history of trouble with the law. In 2010, the younger Gladden answered the door when police executed a search warrant at his father’s home, looking for drugs and guns, documents show. Police seized a 12-gauge shotgun during that search along with marijuana, and prosecutors later sought the forfeiture of the shotgun and a .45-caliber handgun.
Meanwhile, Gladden’s stepfather, 43-year-old Andrew Piper, faces new charges of illegal gun possession and drug possession stemming from Monday’s search. Piper was prohibited from possessing firearms because of a previous conviction for grand theft, documents show.
According to police and court documents, the younger Gladden brought a disassembled shotgun, 21 rounds of ammunition and a bottle of vodka with him for the first day of school Monday morning. On his Facebook page, he wrote, “First day of school, last day of my life.”
The double-barreled shotgun was an antique and was taken from his father’s house, police said.
Police said he assembled the shotgun in a restroom and walked into the cafeteria, where he pointed the gun at a nearby table and opened fire, wounding Borowy. The victim remained in critical condition Wednesday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Gladden’s attorney, George Psoras, challenged the narrative provided by police, saying that Gladden fired his initial gunshot into the floor. He said the shot that wounded Borowy was inadvertent and occurred after school staff rushed the teen and tried to get the gun away from him.
Police and witnesses credited guidance counselor Jesse Wasmer with disarming Gladden and preventing further violence.
Psoras told The Associated Press that Gladden brought the gun to school in response to repeated bullying but never intended to use it. “The stereotype right now is that we have a Columbine,” Psoras said. “It’s simply not the case. This is a typical teenager who was just starting this school year. He was being bullied, and the bullying has to stop.”
Gladden’s classmates said he appeared troubled and withdrawn. The three photos of him on his Facebook page, where he makes references to murder-suicide and mass murderer Charles Manson, show his face hidden behind his long hair.
Patrick Waters, a 14-year-old sophomore at Perry Hall, said that Gladden didn’t have many friends and dressed “kind of different.” He also said Gladden had been disciplined in middle school. “He would just walk up and hit people,” Waters said. Waters said he’d played football against Gladden in middle school, but he didn’t think Gladden was involved in sports anymore.
Humberto Cardona, 15, said Gladden dressed “kind of gothic” and grew his hair out. “He’d like wear it in front of his face, like he was hiding,” Cardona said.