Montgomery County police arrested on Monday an 18-year-old Albert Einstein High School student who was driving a stolen vehicle with a stolen assault rifle in the trunk on school grounds, a police spokesman said.
The rifle had been stolen from an unmarked police cruiser on Saturday, police said. After the arrest near the Kensington school, police found a second stolen car nearby with another stolen gun from that police car.
A school resource officer was patrolling the school grounds at 10:33 a.m. Monday and noticed an unfamiliar blue Mazda 3 parked at the rear of the school, according to a news release issued Wednesday. After watching the driver exit the car and walk toward the school before returning to the car and driving away, the officer followed the car and attempted to pull it over at the intersection of Norris and Kenton drives. The driver stopped the car and immediately fled from the officer on foot.
The driver soon returned to the intersection and was arrested by the school resource officer and other officers, according to police. Police identified the driver as Einstein student Mario G. Alvarado of the 2900 block of Dawson Avenue in Wheaton.
A computer check of the Mazda’s registration revealed it had been reported stolen from a Milton Street residence in Wheaton on April 27, according to police.
County police officers searched the car and found in the trunk an assault rifle, which they determined belonged to the Rockville City Police Department and had been stolen from a city police cruiser in Kensington on Saturday.
Police recovered several magazines of ammunition with the AR-15 rifle, which had also been taken from the police cruiser, police spokesman Officer Rick Goodale said. Some magazines were fully loaded and some were empty.
Police also found a black Nissan Frontier parked near Albert Einstein that had been stolen from Lafayette Drive in Wheaton on April 22, according to the news release. When searching the Nissan, officers found a shotgun that had been stolen from the same police car in Kensington.
The firearms had been stored in the trunk of an unmarked cruiser that was parked at an officer's home on Blueford Road and were taken during the early morning on Saturday, Goodale said. When going to the car in the morning, the officer discovered the trunk had been opened and the firearms were missing. There were no signs of forced entry and the manner of entry into the trunk is unknown, he said.
City of Rockville spokeswoman Marylou Berg said the department allows officers to take their cruisers home with them. The theft happened outside of the jurisdiction of the Rockville police department and county police are handling the investigation. Detectives are investigating how the guns were stolen and who else might be involved, Goodale said.
Alvarado was charged with possessing a deadly weapon on school property, possession of an assault weapon, possession of a stolen vehicle and other firearm-related charges, according to police. He was transported to the county’s Central Processing Unit in Rockville and is being held on a $2,000 bond.
On Tuesday, detectives arrested a 15-year-old and charged him with auto theft offenses related to this investigation. The juvenile was released to the custody of his parents, according to police.
Einstein Principal James Fernandez wrote in a letter sent Monday to parents that the weapon found in the vehicle driven by Alvarado was never brought into the school building. He confirmed in the letter that Alvarado was a student at the school.
“Ensuring the safety of every student at Einstein is a top priority and a responsibility that I take very seriously,” he wrote. “I appreciate your support as we work to maintain a safe and secure environment for our school community.”
Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Jack Smith called the incident “inexcusable” in a letter sent Wednesday to parents.
“It is our responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for our students and we will do everything within our power to protect them,” Smith wrote. “MCPS does not tolerate guns on school property. Any student who brings a gun on school property will be referred to law enforcement and disciplined accordingly.”
County police ask anyone with information on the ongoing investigation to call 240-773-6710.
Bethesda Beat editor Andrew Metcalf contributed to this report.