Police-Involved Shooting on School Drive

Phillip Watson is being held on no bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center.

Montgomery County police arrested 31-year-old Phillip Watson on Jan. 6 and charged him with the attempted murder of a Gaithersburg police officer.

The incident began on Jan. 5 at approximately 11:25 p.m. when police said Watson called 911 to report a suspicious vehicle in a parking lot near his home.

According to Montgomery County police, the vehicle was being used by four city police officers who were working undercover on special assignment in the area of School Drive because of some thefts in the area. According to police, officers called Watson back but did not reach him so they left a voice mail.

At 2:58 a.m., Watson reportedly telephoned police again to say he was going to check on the situation himself.

According to a county police narrative, the four undercover city officers then observed an individual wearing a mask covering his face and pacing outside of a residence in the unit block of School Drive. They exited their vehicles to determine if this was the caller and the officer closest to the suspect, according to police, was displaying his police badge around his neck.

When the officer called out, police said Watson who was walking up the stairs pulled out a handgun and began firing multiple shots at the officer who dropped to the ground to retreat.

One of the three other city officers fired a shot at the suspect just before he entered his apartment, police said. No one was struck or injured during the exchange of gunfire.

Police said Watson then called police to confirm that he had fired shots.

The suspect was taken into custody by Montgomery County Police and charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault, use of a concealed handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, transport and possession of a handgun, and four counts of reckless endangerment.

Police say he is being held without bond at the Montgomery County Detention Center.

The four Gaithersburg police officers are now on administrative leave which is standard procedure.

“Administrative leave is granted to police officers that have been involved in a traumatic incident for a minimum of 72 hours,” said Gaithersburg Police Chief Mark Sroka.

Montgomery County Police Captain Paul Starks said county police are conducting two separate investigations (the suspect’s arrest and the firing of a service weapon by an officer) of this incident as is standard procedure.