County police are conducting an internal investigation into the handling of a melee Sunday morning in Hillsmere in which attackers beat high school students with a crow bar and hockey sticks.
The investigation comes amid complaints from parents and one victim, who said police dismissed the altercation as a party fight instead of treating it as an assault.
Had the officer acted decisively when he first arrived, the critics said, the party crashers from Annapolis High School would not havereturned an hour later to beat several people on the front porch of the house.
"It may have started as a party fight, but that's not the way it ended up," said Kenneth L. Rudd, interviewed from his hospital room at Anne Arundel Medical Center, where he is awaiting surgery.
Police spokesman Officer V. Richard Molloy said the internal investigation was not sparked by community complaints, but by concern that Officer Mark Camm, who responded to the first fight, simply told the party-crashers to go home, even though three people were hurt badly enough to require medical treatment.
"There are a lot of questions we don't have answers to yet," Molloy said. "There are a lot of things that could have happened."
He said Camm might have been too busy tending to the victims to arrest the attackers.
Malloy also said the investigation will not focus specifically on Camm, but on police conduct in general.
Police say Camm was driving by the home of Joseph Heeney, in the 100 block of Edgemere Drive, at 1:15 a.m. when he heard glass and bottles breaking. He said in a report that he wentinto the home and saw about 10 people fighting with hockey sticks and a crowbar in the living room.
After breaking up the fight, Camm said, he told the uninvited guests toleave, then continued his patrol.
People at the party said the group returned with reinforcements at about 3:15 a.m. and beat two girls and a boy standing on the frontporch. Rudd, 25, said he had arrived at the home at about 2 a.m. with the older sister of the girl having the party because they heard about some problems.
"We were sitting inside in the living room," hesaid. "People were sitting on the front steps. The group came back. It was a mob. We heard screaming from people being beaten and beggingto get back inside."
Rudd said he went outside to try to protect the victims from the 10 attackers, who were wearing masks or had T-shirts pulled over their faces. "It was wilding. It was the most horrifying thing I've ever seen . . . They literally stormed the house likea guerrilla group. That is more than just a fight."
Rudd said theright side of his face was shattered when he was hit with a baseballbat. He is scheduled to undergo surgery tomorrow to insert a permanent plate to repair his cheek. Of the five people injured, only Rudd remains in the hospital.
Lee Rudd said Monday that arrests at the first sign of trouble "certainly would have saved my son."
After the second altercation, police arrested a 17-year-old boy and charged him with assault with intent to maim. Molloy said police are still searching for two other adults who could face the same charge.
Several parents have complained about the way police handled the investigation, saying several 911 calls went unanswered,and that the only reason an officer showed up at the house at all was because he was on a private patrol paid for by Hillsmere.
Molloy said Camm was in uniform and driving a county police cruiser. Camm's off-duty job was approved by the department, Molloy said.
Molloy said Camm arrived at thehouse at 1:15 a.m. and the police department received two 911 calls -- both originating from the house -- at 1:17 a.m.
He said the police department received two 911 calls on the second fight, one at 3:10 a.m. from the Heeney house and another at 3:11 a.m. from a house across the street.
Molloy said police arrived at the home at 3:15 a.m. He also said that other people may have called police, but since dispatchers already had received calls for the disturbance, the subsequent calls would not be recorded.
Heeney said he and his wife wereaway for the weekend and returned Monday just after midnight. He said he did not know his 18-year-old daughter, Jacqueline, was going to throw a party.