A 15-year-old Hammond High School student yesterday pleaded "involved" -- the equivalent of guilty for a juvenile -- to bringing an unloaded gun and ammunition to the school last month.
At a hearing in Howard County Juvenile Court, Master William V. Tucker released the youth from the Alfred D. Noyes Children's Center in Rockville and placed him on home detention until sentencing, which is scheduled for August.
The teenager, whose name The Sun is withholding because of his age, had told police that he stole the weapon from his father's safe and brought it to school to protect himself from gang members with whom he had been feuding.
Tucker had been reluctant to release the student, fearing other might seek retaliation.
Yesterday, the teenager told Tucker that he had worked out the dispute over the phone while in custody at Noyes.
A psychological evaluation also recommended that the freshman be sent home and declared him a low risk to offend again, said Assistant Public Defender Jenny Parks, who added that the positive report is "quite rare."
"I know what I did was wrong," the soft-spoken juvenile told Tucker. "It wasn't a smart thing for me to do."
Prosecutor Cindy Johnson said that on June 14, the day before the freshman's arrest, he told two classmates that he intended to bring a gun to Hammond High on the last day of school, June 20.
Johnson said the students didn't take his comments seriously, but one of them asked the teenager during a class the next day if he had "indeed brought a gun to school."
Johnson said the defendant lifted up his shirt and showed the gun and bullets to two students, who reported the offense to a teacher.
The school's police officer, Pfc. Jake Bell, confiscated the weapon and arrested the teenager during the next class period, Johnson said.
Tucker ordered the teen to undergo psychiatric and medical evaluations before sentencing. He also ordered him to stay away from gang members.
"I know that there is a gang problem here in Howard County, no matter what anybody else says," Tucker said.