A 23-year-old Southeast Baltimore man, beaten repeatedly in the head with his own baseball bat, was in critical condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital and may be severely brain-damaged, officials said yesterday.
Pedro Lugo of the 400 block of North Kenwood Avenue was beaten Friday afternoon by three youths at the eastern edge of Patterson Park, police said.
A crowd of middle school students gathered around the fight, but no one helped Mr. Lugo, police said.
"When he fell on the ground, they kept beating him in the head," said Margaret Reimer, who lives across the street from the park.
"They didn't hit him in the back or anything; they hit him in the head.
"The kids ran away, and I ran outside to see if he was alive," Mrs. Reimer added. "No one wanted to touch him because he was so bloody."
Police said the incident began about 3 p.m. when Mr. Lugo was approached by three youths.
One of them asked Mr. Lugo for his bat, and he handed it over, police said.
"But then he asked for the bat back, and the boys started beating him," said Mrs. Reimer. "There were girls in the crowd chanting. It was disgusting."
Police said that two of the youths hit Mr. Lugo repeatedly with their fists and that the one with the bat hit him twice over the head.
Hours later, police had arrested two suspects -- both 15-year-olds. Their names were not released because of their age.
Police spokesman Dennis S. Hill said they were charged as juveniles, one with assault with intent to murder and the other with assault. Both were released to the custody of parents.
Police are still looking for the third suspect.
The baseball bat was recovered a half-block away from the scene of the attack.
Although residents of the neighborhood felt that the beating was racially motivated -- black youths against a Hispanic man -- police said they did not have enough evidence to reach that conclusion.
"It is just a strange incident," said Mr. Hill. "There was no real motive for it. It is unusual."
He said it would take at least a week for doctors to determine the extent of the injury to Mr. Lugo, whose skull was fractured.