Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones addresses the media after a shooting inside Magruder High School on Jan. 21, 2022. Credit: Caitlynn Peetz

This story was updated at 5:25 p.m. Nov. 7, 2022, to include comments from David Felsen, an attorney for Steven Alston Jr.

A former Col. Zadok Magruder High School student has pleaded guilty to shooting a fellow student in a school restroom in January, the Montgomery County State’s Attorney announced Monday.

Steven Alston Jr., who was a 17-year-old Magruder student when he shot a 15-year-old student on Jan. 21, agreed to a guilty plea of first-degree attempted murder, according to a news release from the state’s attorney’s office. He used a ghost gun, or a firearm that can assembled by buying privately manufactured parts online, according to county police.

The Derwood school was put on lockdown for hours while county police and other local authorities searched for the shooter. Police said they found Alston in the school at around 3 p.m. on the day of the shooting. He was charged as an adult with attempted murder, assault and multiple weapons offenses.

The victim’s mother testified in court earlier this year that her son spent three weeks on life support and had to undergo multiple surgeries. Many parents and students were critical of the school system’s response to the shooting

Alston’s sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Dec. 22, according to the state’s attorney’s office. Charged as an adult, Alston faces up to a life sentence in prison, according to state law. 


David Felsen, Alston’s attorney, said in a brief interview Monday that he and the defense team would be asking for less than a life sentence, but he could not be specific on what they would request.

Felsen said he hopes the judge considers when handing down his sentence that Alston was a juvenile when the shooting occurred and was the victim of bullying at the school. He added that he wished the proceedings had occurred in juvenile court, but he respects the judge’s decision.