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Senior arrested for possession of loaded gun at WJ

As seventh period began on Monday, Oct. 23, senior Akram Nassir was pulled from his class, searched and arrested for possessing a loaded 9 mm handgun on school property. Nobody was injured and no shots were fired. The Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) released a public report regarding the situation on Monday.

Another student noticed the weapon adhering to the “if you see something, say something” policy and reported it to WJ administrators, who contacted MCPS security and Montgomery County police. MCPD Community Engagement Officers were immediately dispatched to the school. Admin, security and officers used student reports and school surveillance cameras to locate Nassir and the weapon and subsequently bring him under arrest.

“I’m very thankful for the person that came forward and told us in the first place because it worked. The whole system if something like that were to ever happen got put into place and it worked well,” Principal Jennifer Baker said.

No news of the arrest was shared with the community by admin until later in the day, at around 4 p.m., when Baker sent an email to the community. No lockdown was put into place anytime throughout the school day, even once administration was made aware of the handgun in the building.

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“The reason we didn’t go onto a shelter in place or a lockdown, which was the first thing that entered my mind … we had some pretty good intelligence on the whole situation, so we felt that we could handle it in a more calm and very safe fashion that wouldn’t get the whole school in a lockdown when we actually could locate where the individual was,” Baker said.

While Baker said the email was intended to reach all members of the WJ community, there was an error in the sending process and many students did not receive it.

Nassir was in class for the school day up until his arrest, leaving some students and teachers surprised at the news.

“[Nassir and I] had a good relationship and it saddens me that he has made an unfortunate decision that is going to impact a big part of the next several years of his life,” social studies teacher Jeremy Butler said.

In an announcement made to the whole school at the beginning of first period on Tuesday, Baker shared more information about the situation with the handgun and attempted to unite the community through this tough time.

“Finally I want us to remember to treat each other kindly. Know that there are people in this building suffering for multiple reasons. Please make sure you treat each other well. Please let us know what is happening, we are here to help you,” Baker said in the announcement.

In the coming days, discussions about security in and around WJ will likely occur. Many have brought up the possibility of having people walk through metal detectors and/or go through searches as they enter the building. Baker did not rule out the possibility of this, or instituting a clear backpack policy, but for the time being, the main changes will be an increase in security and changes to school events.

“I think for now, we’ll get some more support from the county, from MCPS security and from the Montgomery County Police. When we have games and things like that, you might see more police cars out there, more people [and] different ways of entering. For the upcoming Churchill game, we’re going to have a satellite snack bar down for them and then also porta potties so we can keep them off the concourse area so there is no interaction … and they’re going to show their tickets through the back entrance,” Baker said.

Over the past two years, WJ has increased their strictness regarding student IDs. However in this situation, the offender was a student, so the policy had little impact.

“Personally it irritates me because I had a situation where I had to come into school late and I got yelled at for not having my ID and they were saying that IDs prevent school shooters, and then they let a kid with a gun into the building. I feel like security could definitely be upped, especially since nobody is really doing anything about it now. They just gave an announcement, and some people are still being let into the building without IDs on them,” sophomore Cody Herwald said.

This story was originally published on The Pitch Online on October 24, 2023.