Bail Denied to Rockville Teen Who Allegedly Threatened Walter Johnson High School
Judge says teen is a danger to the community, allows confiscation of guns
Montgomery County police
A Montgomery County judge on Monday ordered a Rockville teen to remain in custody and deemed him a danger to the community following a series of social media threats he allegedly made against students at Bethesda’s Walter Johnson High School, including posting a photo of himself carrying an AR-15 rifle with loaded magazines and the words, “school shooter.”
“The court does find the defendant dangerous to the community and he is held without bond,” Judge John C. Moffett said during a 1 p.m. bond review hearing for 18-year-old Luis Amilcar Cabrera. “And he should stay there until we’re certain he doesn’t hold any danger to our community.”
Moffett based his ruling “not on what happened, but what could have happened,” a statement he used repeatedly during the hearing. He called one of the threatening posts on Facebook “bold and brazen conduct” that caused chaos.
Cabrera, of the 200 block of Congressional Lane, a former Walter Johnson student, was arrested Thursday in Towson with the aid of Baltimore County police, according to Montgomery County police. Based on the threats, detectives obtained a warrant for Cabrera’s arrest and he was charged Friday with one count of threatening mass violence.
The arrest followed a police investigation that began when Walter Johnson students reported Oct. 12 to the school’s resource officer that they had seen the photo of Cabrera posted Oct. 5, among others, and threatening statements made by him on social media. The students also told the officer that Cabrera said he had posted “I hate WJ” and “Ha, ha, I’m going to shoot up the school” within the past month, a police press release said. In posted videos, Cabrera said he owns the AR-15 rifle and always carries it for protection; he also is seen holding a .40 caliber KelTek rifle, police said.
During an earlier hearing Monday in District Court, authorities also reported that on Feb. 23, Cabrera posted on social media that he hoped everyone at Walter Johnson High School would die. The school resource officer was aware of that threat, the authorities said. Following a report of the February social media post to Principal Jennifer Baker, an evaluation of Cabrera was ordered and conducted, but Cabrera was not deemed a threat and instead was referred for alcohol counseling.
Cabrera was disciplined and later informed he would not be able to graduate because he had missed too much school, according to a court document provided by the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s office. The report indicates school officials believe this could have been the trigger for Cabrera’s social media posts.
Because of numerous concerns expressed by students and staff at Walter Johnson, Cabrera received a letter in October advising him he was not allowed on school grounds. His photo was distributed to staff and all the security officers on campus were warned to be on alert for Cabrera’s presence.
Authorities said Cabrera was arrested at a home owned by a person who also owned the weapons that Cabrera was holding in the social media photos.
“They were loaded and the KelTek had extra ammunition,” a county attorney said at the 8:30 a.m. hearing.
The nature of the 8: 30 a.m. hearing involved discussion of the use of an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), under a law that became effective Oct. 1. The law, which is to be used in cases of “immediate and present danger,” allows the court to issue a civil order requiring a person to surrender all firearms or ammunition to law enforcement and to not purchase any firearms or ammunition while a case is being investigated.
A state’s attorney said during the hearing that Cabrera indicated he had other weapons that were not confiscated.
Moffett granted the county police request to issue the order, and the guns were confiscated, authorities said.
During a press conference following the 1 p.m. bond review hearing, county police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks said the confiscated guns are all legally owned, and while police are aware of the owner’s identify, they are not releasing that information to the public.
Police said they do not know yet what motivated Cabrera to make the threats.
Montgomery County Public Schools spokesperson Derek Turner said Cabrera did not graduate from Walter Johnson High School, and “withdrew before graduation.”
Turner praised the students who told authorities about the alleged threat.
“We commend the students who came forward to keep their school and classmates safe,” he said in a statement. “MCPS has invested millions of dollars in school safety and security, however no resource is as valuable as students and staff who are vigilant in their commitment to safety.”
Baker sent a letter to families of Walter Johnson students over the weekend, outlining the alleged threats and also commending the students who came forward with information.
“Because of this decision our (school resource officer) was able to work with her colleagues to keep our school and community safe,” she wrote.
A court hearing is scheduled at 8:30 a.m. Oct. 29 to continue the discussion of the ERPO, which is a temporary order. A shield order has been placed on court documents pertaining to the ERPO, a District Court clerk said.