On Friday, Diane M. Evans, 39, will change her travel schedule so she will arrive home earlier. She wants to make sure she will be able to get ready for her sister's wedding.
Evans wants to get to the wedding on time, but she also wants to get home before the students at nearby Hampstead Hill Middle School, in the 100 block of S. Ellwood Ave., are let out at the end of the school day.
"In order to avoid them, I'll leave work an hour early," said Evans, a supervisory clerk. "That's the way you have to think."
In taking evasive action, Evans is not alone. Between 2:45 and 3:30 p.m. weekdays, the time that Hampstead Hill is let out, many Kenwood Avenue residents say they do their best to avoid going outside. If their small children are outside, they snatch them inside.
Evans and others say that during those 45 minutes, Hampstead Hill students storm through their quiet, working-class neighborhood. Residents describe the students as mean, violent and intimidating.
"It's almost like a war zone when they come through," Evans said.
Neighbors complain that the students, traveling in packs, throw bottles, attack innocent people, jump on cars, break car antennae and scrawl graffiti on surfaces. Many residents refuse to sit on their marble steps at that time.
"I don't care who you are, or what you are about," Evans said. "Just don't get in their way."
After a brutal incident Friday, residents say now is the time to put a lid on the situation.
Expedito "Pedro" Lugo, 24, of the 400 block of N. Kenwood Ave., was beaten with his own baseball bat after leaving Patterson Park. The popular park is perpendicular to his street and the site of occasional assaults, police and neighbors said.
At least 40 children circled Lugo during the attack in the first block of N. Kenwood Ave., chanting, "Die, die, die," witnesses said.
Lugo, who suffered a fractured skull, was in serious condition today at Johns Hopkins Hospital, a hospital spokeswoman said. He remained on a life support system. It will be weeks before doctors determine if he has brain damage, a source said.
Police arrested three boys at their homes in the assault on Lugo: A 15-year-old was arrested Friday evening and charged with assault with intent to murder because he is believed to have swung the bat. Another 15-year-old was arrested Saturday evening and a 13-year-old was arrested at 10:30 a.m. yesterday. The latter two were charged with assault.
The teen-agers were being held today at the Charles H. Hickey School in Cub Hill, where they were taken after their initial arrests. "Due to the seriousness of the case, it was decided to remand them to Hickey," said Sgt. Jay Landsman, of the homicide squad.
Earlier police reports appeared to indicate that the first two boys arrested had been released to their parents, but police spokesman Dennis Hill said today that was not the case.
Hill said representatives of the Baltimore state's attorney met with police and juvenile authorities yesterday on the possibility of charging the suspects as adults but decided that they would be charged as juveniles.
The suspects faced a hearing before juvenile authorities today to determine whether they will continue to be held at Hickey or released to the custody of their parents, Hill said.
Because the boys have been charged as juveniles, their names were not released.
"We don't think this was a random act," said Maj. Harry Koffenberger, of the Southeastern District, said yesterday of the beating. However, he would not elaborate.
Koffenberger later said, "Hampstead Hill has nothing to do with this incident other than the fact that the kids go there."
In the wake of the beating, Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke met outside the school yesterday with police and Preston Roney, the principal, to outline steps to prevent other such incidents.
Schmoke said he wants the school to stagger dismissals so all 1,200 students do not descend on the community at the same time. He also ordered increased police presence in the area after school.
Several police cruisers and plainclothes officers with walkie-talkies were visible yesterday following the dismissal bell.
"Ninety percent of the students are not troublemakers," Schmoke said. "But there have been some complaints."
Schmoke also said the Mass Transit Administration will be asked to increase the number of buses sent to the school so students will not have to roam through the community to catch transportation home. "We also hope to work on a parents patrol," Schmoke said.
Members of the Baltimore-Linwood Neighborhood Association said the violence has been a continuing problem.
In the fall, the association met with Roney and discussed "channeling" the students to the streets they live on to prevent them from causing trouble on Kenwood. But nothing of substance apparently came of that suggestion.
Now, frustrated residents have drafted petitions to take to the mayor's office, calling for the closing of Hampstead Hill, which has a large population from outside the area.