Some students at Hampstead Hill Middle School say their school is getting a bum rap.
They say the school, in the 100 block of S. Ellwood Ave., isn't a haven for violent troublemakers.
"I don't think it's right that they call all of us violent," a 13-year-old student said yesterday. "It's not fair."
"It's just certain boys, and boys from other schools," causing the violence and trouble, said an eighth-grader, standing at the edge of Patterson Park. "Just leave us alone."
During class yesterday, Preston Roney, the principal of the racially mixed school, announced over the intercom that the media were referring to the students as "a bunch of thugs," students said.
"It's kind of upsetting," said sixth-grader Troy Kane.
Since Friday's beating of Expedito "Pedro" Lugo, 24, by three youths -- one of the accused being a student at Hampstead Hill -- residents have told of students moving boisterously through the neighborhood, attacking people, throwing bottles and jumping and walking on cars.
"When they come, it's like, 'God help anybody and anything in their way,' " said Dick Gatto, principal of St. Elizabeth's Catholic School. He closes the school at 2 p.m. to allow his students
enough time to go home before Hampstead Hill lets out.
Yesterday, after a review of the investigation reports of the beating, Baltimore State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms charged Keith M. Robinson, 15, of the 1000 block of N. Collington Ave., as an adult with attempted murder, assault with intent to murder, assault and use of a deadly weapon. Robinson attends Hampstead Hill.
Simms charged James I. Holley 3rd, also 15, of the 2500 block of Ashland Ave., as an adult with attempted murder, assault with intent to murder and assault, police said.
After their initial arrests over the weekend, Robinson and Holley had been charged as juveniles and were held at Charles Hickey School in Cub Hill until the adult charges were placed yesterday.
Both were moved to the Southeastern District lockup pending a bail review hearing today in District Court, police said.
A 13-year-old boy was charged as a delinquent in the beating incident and remains in the custody of juvenile services, police said.
State law says any child 14 years of age and older charged with murder or attempted murder must be charged as an adult. Children under age 14 must be charged as a juveniles, Simms said.
Lugo, of the 400 block of N. Kenwood Ave., remained in serious condition today at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
During the beating incident, witnesses said, a large crowd of students chanted: "Die, die, die." But a two students said yesterday the students were shouting to the assailants, "He's going to die. Don't do that."
The troublemakers may instigate trouble to relieve school and family pressures, some students said, adding that that wasn't right.
School officials said Hampstead Hill has a student population of 1,218, with a racial breakdown of 886 blacks, 258 whites, 18 Asians, 37 Indians and 19 Hispanics.
Students said residents of the mostly white area just don't like them because most of them are black and they don't want them walking through the neighborhood.
Dottye Burt-Markowitz, 46, a resident, agreed. "This is a neighborhood that holds strong attitudes towards the black community," she said, adding that white supremacist groups have actively been trying to recruit members from among residents for the past two years.
Burt-Markowitz said most of the students behave like normal schoolchildren but some are "a little more rowdy." She said some students band together so that when they travel in the neighborhood "they won't be bothered."
"There are some rotten children in that school," said parent Michelle Cooper, 30, a black woman. "Not all are bad.
"But how do you weed out the bad ones? You don't interview them [individually] and ask, 'Are you going to beat up your teacher today?' "
Although some residents inferred that the beating of Lugo, a Hispanic,
by three blacks was racially motivated, police said there was no evidence to support the inference.
"We agree 100 percent that this wasn't racially motivated," said Carlos Lopez Rodriguez, vice president of the East Baltimore Latino Organization and a friend of the Lugo family.
Meanwhile, the McElderry, Decker, Kenwood and Jefferson community associations have created the Expedito Lugo Trust Fund to raise money to defray his medical costs. Officers at the Southeastern District donated $100, a source said.
Donations can be mailed to: The Expedito Lugo Trust Fund, c/o Golden Prague Federal Savings and Loan Association, 2921 McElderry
St., Baltimore 21205.
"We're saying a lot of prayers," said Lugo's sister, RamonaArias, 25. "I hope and pray God can keep him alive."
Since the beating, "my mother doesn't want to eat anymore," Arias said.