ROCKVILLE — Alwin Chen, the Clarksburg High School student who brought a loaded Glock 19 handgun to school, is expected to plead guilty on a charge that could send him to jail for three years.
Chen, 18, entered into a plea agreement April 5 to carrying a handgun on school property and will learn of his fate in a hearing before Circuit Court Judge John Maloney on April 24. He can be sentenced to 90 days to three years.
In exchange for his expected guilty plea, two other charges were dropped, including possession of weapon by a minor and bringing the handgun to school on other days.
Chen has been in jail since his Feb. 15 arrest, when the gun was found in his backpack.
In a journal found in Chen’s home, the high school senior wrote of shooting evil people and wanting to kill criminals such as serial killers or gang members, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Frank Lazzaro. Chen also compared himself to a vigilante comic book hero.
At the time of his arrest, Chen said he carried a gun to protect himself and other students in case there was a school shooting, according to Lazzaro.
Emma Litchfield, a 10th grader at Clarksburg High School, who said she previously dated Chen for several months, said that she didn’t believe Chen ever meant to hurt anyone.
In an exclusive interview with the Sentinel, Litchfield described classmate Chen as “a really sweet guy. He stuck up for his friends and was always respectful and would never lay a harmful hand on a woman or child.”
She particularly liked how honest and funny he is, saying he could make her smile easily.
Although Litchfield said she never saw any weapons, and Chen never told her he brought any to school with him, in retrospect, she said she was not surprised.
“For some reason, I always had a feeling in my gut that he had some weapon with him,” she said. However, she said, while Chen talked about weapons and someday joining the Army, “I never knew he had one on him.”
Chen “talked about them,” she said of the guns. “I figured they belonged to his family” and that he just wanted them for protection.
She never feared her classmate. “I knew he wasn’t going to shoot any students,” she said, explaining she believed if he was carrying a weapon, it was only in case the kids who continually teased and bullied him ever turned violent on him.
“He was bullied mercilessly,” Litchfield said. Some students “kicked, punched, licked, even followed him home and pooped in his yard,” she said, adding that she believed the harassment started in middle school.
“They just targeted him.”
Through it all, “He remained quiet,” never telling school authorities, she said. Chen, who is from Germantown, was “actually quite passive and mostly brushed it off and changed the topic when it was brought up.”
They met at track, where they were both on the team. “We ran together a few times.”
They also ate lunch together, sitting with some of their mutual friends.
Chen was a very good student, and she often saw him working on his homework, she said.
Litchfield is very worried about Chen. He could be “getting hurt or becoming someone’s handyman,” she said.
Litchfield thanked this reporter several times for reaching out and hoped that some people will read this article and realize he’s not crazy or a terrorist.
“I see people online saying he should get the death penalty, and it infuriates me.”