- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 28, 2012

PERRY HALL, Md. (AP) — At 6:27 a.m. on his first day as a sophomore at Perry Hall High School in the Baltimore suburbs, Robert Wayne Gladden Jr. updated his Facebook status.

“First day of school, last day of my life,” he wrote. He then typed a symbol resembling a person with two middle fingers extended before adding “f– the world.”

Gladden, a pale youth with long, dark hair who turned 15 just three weeks ago, has been charged as an adult in the shooting of a 17-year-old classmate, who was hit in the back with a shotgun blast in the school’s cafeteria Monday morning. The victim, Daniel Borowy, remained in critical condition Tuesday afternoon.

While authorities did not discuss a motive for the shooting, Baltimore County Police Chief James Johnson said Gladden planned the attack and fired a shot at random before school staff rushed him. A second shot hit the ceiling during the struggle, police said.


But Gladden’s attorney, George Psoras, challenged that version of events, saying that the teenager brought the shotgun to school to intimidate bullies and did not aim it at classmates or intend to harm anyone. Psoras said he believes Gladden fired into the floor and the gun discharged again accidentally while teachers tried to wrestle it away.

“The stereotype right now is that we have a Columbine,” Psoras told the Associated Press. “It’s simply not the case. This is a typical teenager who was just starting this school year. He was being bullied, and the bullying has to stop.”

The police chief said Gladden told investigators directly that bullying was not the motive for the shooting. But Psoras said that his client made those comments under duress and he criticized police for their interrogation tactics. Elise Armacost, a police spokesman, said the department stood by the chief’s statements.

Meanwhile, Gladden’s Facebook page and comments from his classmates suggested a troubled and withdrawn young man. Patrick Waters, a 14-year-old sophomore at Perry Hall, said that Gladden didn’t have many friends and dressed “kind of different.” He also said Gladden had been disciplined in middle school.

“He would just walk up and hit people,” Waters said.

Waters said he’d played football against Gladden in middle school, but he didn’t think Gladden was involved in sports anymore.

Humberto Cardona, 15, said Gladden dressed “kind of gothic” and grew his hair out.

“He’d like wear it in front of his face, like he was hiding,” Cardona said.

The Facebook page, which classmates confirmed was his, makes references to murder-suicide and to mass murderer Charles Manson. Gladden gave himself the nickname “SuicidalSmile,” and the three photos of him all show his face hidden behind his long hair. He describes himself as a “metalhead” and a fan of musicians Marilyn Manson and Slipknot.

There were also indications of a troubled home life. Gladden’s father and stepfather both have criminal records, and his stepfather is facing gun charges stemming from a search of his home Monday. The charges are not related to the school shooting, police said.

According to the timeline provided by Johnson and by prosecutors in charging documents, Gladden rode the bus to school, carrying a bag with a disassembled shotgun, 21 rounds of ammunition and a bottle of vodka.

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