(WHITE MARSH, Md.) — When Robert Gladden allegedly opened fire in the Perry Hall High School cafeteria, he critically injured Daniel Borowy, a 17-year-old who suffers from Down syndrome.
Trish Smelser, of Baltimore, Md., met Borowy’s mother, Rosemary, at a Down syndrome support group when Borowy was a 1-year-old. Smelser’s daughter, who is best friends with Borowy and a fellow classmate, also has Down syndrome.
During the shooting at Perry Hall High School in the Baltimore suburb of White Marsh, Smelser’s daughter was sitting at the next table in the cafeteria. She had her back to the shooter, just like Borowy. School aids pushed students under the table to protect them.
Borowy’s mother declined to talk with ABC News, but Smelser discussed the boy after speaking with the upset mom.
Smelser was shocked when she heard about the shooting.
“I was just dying for Rosemary and Daniel, feeling so bad,” Smelser told ABC News. “It’s just a horrible thing to go through, but when you have a special needs child, it’s just extra devastating. They don’t communicate as well. It’s just so hard.”
Although Borowy is still listed in critical condition, Smelser is confident he will recover because he is “so strong.”
“He’s doing good. He’s awake and he can wiggle his fingers and toes,” Smelser’s daughter, Stephanie, told ABC News. Borowy suffered from two broken ribs and a bruised lung, she said.
Friends of Borowy are reaching out to Lady Gaga on Facebook and Twitter urging the singer to visit the 17-year-old because Daniel is a huge fan of the pop star.
“He loves Lady Gaga. He has a suitcase packed and says he’s going to go to California to marry her,” Smelser’s daughter, Stephanie, told ABC News.
Police believe when Gladden, 15, opened fire in the school cafeteria Monday he shot randomly and was not aiming for Borowy.
Gladden was charged as an adult Tuesday with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault. He is locked up without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson, Md., Baltimore County Police Chief Jim Johnson said in a news conference Tuesday.
The sophomore left a grisly clue to his alleged intentions on his Facebook Monday morning when he wrote, “First day of school, last day of my life.” On his page, he lists his employer as “The Manson Family” with the description “murder suicide.”
Hours later, police said, he twice fired a shotgun in the school’s cafeteria.
Gladden does not have a lawyer yet, according to the State’s Attorney’s office. He has a preliminary hearing set for Sept. 7.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Brian Stelter, CNN
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