Police start daily patrols after fight at high school HARFORD COUNTY

December 20, 1992|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Police began daily patrols at Joppatowne High School last week after a scuffle in which a sophomore's jaw was broken when he was hit with a starter's pistol.

A fight, apparently triggered by a six-week-old grudge between two students, began in a school parking lot after classes ended Wednesday, authorities said.

For being suspected of involvement in the fight, two 15-year-old students in a special education program at Edgewood High School were sent to the Hickey School for delinquents in Cub Hill in Baltimore County Wednesday night. They were detained, police said, because any involvement in a fight would violate their probation stemming from unrelated charges.

The injured boy, 16, was treated at Franklin Square Hospital.

After the fight, the state police and the Harford County Sheriff's Office agreed to patrol the school's grounds before and after school daily indefinitely, at the request of Joppatowne Principal Doris L. Williams.

The fight began after an 18-year-old senior from Edgewood High, with four ninth-grade boys in his car, pulled into the parking lot at Joppatowne High, school officials said.

The ninth-graders all live in the Joppatowne area. Two of them, both 15, are enrolled in a program at Edgewood High for students with emotional problems, Mrs. Williams said.

Another boy in the car, 16, had been suspended from Joppatowne High for an earlier incident, Mrs. Williams said.

The remaining ninth-grader, also a Joppatowne student, began arguing with a 17-year-old Joppatowne senior, reviving a quarrel that dated to a Nov. 13 football game between the two schools, Mrs. Williams said.

One of the other ninth-graders threw a bottle at the senior, Mrs. Williams said.

Then the 17-year-old boy's brother, a 16-year-old sophomore, tried to come to his rescue, Mrs. Williams said.

The 18-year-old, who had driven the car, hit the sophomore with a starter's pistol, breaking his jaw, she said.

Another Joppatowne student, apparently trying to stop the fight, sprayed Mace at the attackers, the principal said.

When the 18-year-old displayed starter's pistol, some 50 to 75 student onlookers ran away, Mrs. Williams said.

"The gun was later revealed to be a starter's pistol, but the students did not know that at that time," she said.

The five boys got back into the car, where they were joined by a sixth student from Joppatowne High, and drove off, Mrs. Williams said.

She said the school has received calls from parents concerned that the fight was racially motivated. The victim and his brother were white; the other five boys involved in the fight were black.

"We have tried to dispel whatever rumors may be out there and to keep students informed," Mrs. Williams said. "I cannot stress enough that this was not a racial incident."

Police said none of the boys has been charged but could be, after further investigation.

Mrs. Williams said the victim and his brother would not be suspended.

"Basically, they were defending themselves," she said.

Robert C. Williams, the principal at Edgewood High, said he suspended the three students who attended his school.

Mr. Williams, who is not related to Doris Williams, said he seized a starter's pistol from the 18-year-old student's car Friday morning.

The starter pistol was locked in Edgewood High's vault until state police retrieved it Friday morning, Mr. Williams said.

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