An 18-year-old accused of threatening a shooting at schools in Montgomery County is being held without bond after a hearing Friday afternoon.

County officials on Friday said Alex Ye, the teenager, was involuntarily committed at a local hospital about a month before his arrest.

The charging documents filed in Ye’s draw a picture of a teenager who had serious mental health struggles and may not have received all the help he needed.

An emergency petition to have him hospitalized took effect March 6. Charging documents do not make it clear when Ye was discharged from the hospital but reference a conversation between detectives and Ye at the hospital on March 19. Ye was arrested April 17.

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Ye’s arrest came after a joint investigation by the Montgomery County police and the FBI. The FBI notified local officials of a 129-page document where Ye wrote about committing a school shooting and contemplates targeting an elementary school, police said.

The document, as described in court records, tells the story of a fictional “James Wang” who plans a school shooting but is taken into custody by law enforcement and put in psychiatric treatment.

A witness in the case contacted authorities after reading part of the document because they thought the story had “striking similarities” to Ye’s life.

Investigators also found that Ye took part in online chats on Discord that focused on “glorifying school shootings,” according to the charging documents.

Ye is charged with making a threat of mass violence, a crime in Maryland that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. An attorney listed for Ye, Paulette Pagán, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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During a press conference Friday, officials said Ye had researched topics related to shooting and gun violence online, including gun ranges and information about school shooters and high-profile shootings.

Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich said Ye posted online about the difficulty of getting a gun in Maryland and said this could be a case where strict gun laws prevented a shooting from happening.

Ye said in a conversation on Instagram that not having a gun was “mostly” what had kept him from carrying out a shooting so far, according to the charging documents.

Also in an Instagram conversation, Ye said he hated that he couldn’t be honest with his therapist about his feelings because he would “end up in the state hospital or jail,” according to the charging documents. In the same Instagram chat, Ye wrote of having “homicidal ideation,” the charging document state.

Jones, the police chief, said Ye’s father owns a gun that was locked in a safe in the house where the family lived. Ye did not have access to that weapon, Jones said.

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Rockville City Police visited Ye’s house on or around March 3, according to charging documents, shortly after the witness notified police about the document Ye had shared.

Police attempted to conduct a welfare check but were denied entry to the home by Ye’s father, Xuan Ye, according to the charging documents. The father said he was not concerned because he would have noticed any changes in Ye’s mental state and was “adamant” the document was a fictional novel. The family refused to allow a search without a warrant.

In December 2022, Ye was hospitalized because he threatened to “shoot up” a school and because he had homicidal and suicidal ideations. On Jan. 31, 2023, the Montgomery County Crisis Center contacted Rockville police to assist clinicians with an emergency evaluation petition of Ye, because Ye was again have homicidal and suicidal ideations, and had discussed suicide by cop, according to charging documents.

Ye purchased a BB gun on Amazon without his parents’ knowledge and told a therapist at his high school he purchased it for the purpose of dying in a confrontation with police.

Ye was hospitalized again was an inpatient at the Johns Hopkins Hospital pediatric unit from about Feb. 20-July 20, 2023, because of homicidal ideations, according to the charging records. He went to a residential care facility afterward.

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After Ye was involuntarily hospitalized on March 6, hospital staff said they were concerned enough by Ye making threats that they broke confidentiality and contacted police, the charging documents say.

Ye told hospital staff he had been abused as a child and that child protective services declined the case; that scenario is mirrored by the character in the document Ye wrote, according to charging documents.

Elrich said this incident should “be a wakeup call” about mental health and said officials should learn from this incident to improve mental health support services.

Brian Hull, chief operating officer of Montgomery County Public Schools, said police presence had increased at Wootton High School, where Ye had attended. Hull confirmed that, while Ye was a student, he had not attended in-person classes since fall 2022 and had been taking virtual classes.

Will Jawando, an at-large councilmember on the Montgomery County Council, said he was thankful to live in a county and state with strong gun laws and a commitment to keeping people safe.

Though there’s always room for improvement, “the system worked,” Jawando said, adding that he hoped Ye and his family would get the support and help they need.

Cody Boteler is a reporter on The Banner’s Express Desk, reporting on breaking news, trending stories and interesting things in and around Baltimore. His work has appeared in The Baltimore Sun, USA TODAY, Baltimore magazine and others.

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