Alwin Chen Credit: Via Montgomery County police

An 18-year-old Clarksburg High School student will remain in jail until he faces trial next month for bringing a loaded handgun to school.

Montgomery County District Court Judge John C. Moffett denied a request for bail review for Alwin Chen of Germantown on Tuesday, upholding his Feb. 20 decision that Chen would be held without bail.

Prosecutors have backtracked from their earlier argument that Chen had a “list of grievances” against students, which police and school officials later suggested was mischaracterized, but Assistant State’s Attorney Frank Lazzaro presented new evidence against Chen.

A student told police Chen brought a handgun to school numerous times before he was arrested, he said, and Chen kept a journal in which he allegedly wrote about how he was “mad at the world” and wanted to conduct “vigilante operations” against “evil people.”

He said Chen brought the gun to school “to protect himself and other students from a school shooting.”

Jill Michaels, a defense attorney for Chen, called out the State’s Attorney’s Office for “grossly inaccurate information” at the first bail hearing, saying the suggestion of a list of grievances was trying to assign a false motive to Chen for bringing a gun to school. She and attorney David Felsen last week submitted a motion to revisit Chen’s bail based on new information about the supposed list.

“Now it’s more like a mistake made by a kid who was trying to protect himself and others,” Michaels said in court. 

Chen was arrested at school Feb. 15 after a student alerted school authorities that he had a handgun, according to court documents. He turned over the gun and a knife, both in his backpack, to school security and a school resource officer, a Montgomery County police officer stationed at the school.

The gun—a 15-round-capacity Glock 19 compact handgun—was built from parts he bought online and assembled with tools from Home Depot, Lazzaro said. Police found the gun was operational.

When searching his Gunners Drive home, police found an array of other weapons, including what Lazzaro called a “lower” AR-15 rifle, body armor, replica grenades and other guns. Lazzaro said Tuesday that the other guns belonged to Chen’s father, but Chen made what he described as “tactical adjustments” to them.

Chen’s arrest came a day after a former student fatally shot 17 people at a high school in Parkland, Florida, which sparked fears about school safety nationwide.

Moffett said he was concerned about the journal. He said he considered house detention for Chen, but decided keeping him in jail in Rockville was the only way to guarantee public safety.

“We don’t have the list of grievances, but we do have the journal, which in the court’s view is troubling,” Moffett said.

In the journal, Chen allegedly likened himself to the vigilante comic book hero the Punisher and a character from the Grand Theft Auto V videogame, writing that he made the comparison “because I am almost a psychopath.” Other entries include statements about being “ready to die.”

“Sometimes I think I am crazy or mentally ill but I hide it and refuse to admit it because I know how to cope and blend into society but it’s just too lonely,” the first entry reads, which is undated, but was written sometime before April 2016.

Last May, he allegedly wrote about how he wanted “to kill criminals such as serial killers or gang members,” according to a court document filed by prosecutors.

“I might start doing some vigilante operations,” an entry dated May 1 reads. “I don’t plan on killing people, but I’m surely going to hit evil people.”

David Felsen, another attorney representing Chen, said in court it was unfair of prosecutors to mention the journal entries, which he said hadn’t been verified as Chen’s. He pointed out the most recent journal entry also was about 10 months ago, from early last May.

He said the journal represented nothing more than “teenage angst.”

“Even there, there’s no threat,” he said.

Moffett said Chen faces up to a three-year sentence if convicted of charges of possession of a firearm on school property and other firearms charges. Chen will return to court March 29 for his trial. He is still enrolled in Clarksburg High School, according to Montgomery County Public Schools.