Southern game marred by fight Three fans scuffle with off-duty officer

February 06, 1993|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,Contributing Writer Staff writer Michael James contributed to this article.

The second half of yesterday's basketball game between Southern and Walbrook was played in a near-empty gym at Southern after a halftime altercation between three fans and an off-duty city school police officer.

The officer, Kevin Williams, sprayed mace at two men after a scuffle in the stands. A third man became involved in the fight and they began throwing chairs at Williams. Williams then pulled out a handgun on the gym floor, and the crowd dispersed.

Baltimore City police were called to the scene, but no arrests were made and no injuries were reported. A police spokesman said two patrol cars arrived at the gym after the brawl had ended, and the officers stayed while the gym was cleared.

About 50 spectators -- parents of the Southern and Walbrook players, members of the boys junior varsity teams and some members of the Walbrook girls basketball team -- were allowed to stay for the second half. Southern won the game, 68-60.

Williams is a member of the police force employed by the Baltimore City Public Schools, according to city schools spokesman Nat Harrington. The schools police force is not under city police department jurisdiction.

Williams is assigned to Walbrook, but he was not on duty at yesterday's game. On-duty school police officers are not permitted to carry weapons on school property.

Harrington said school system officials will look into the incident, but that it did not appear Williams violated any school policies. Harrington said Williams was attending the game as a spectator.

Williams said he was sitting in the stands behind the Walbrook bench when the incident began, about three minutes after both teams had left the floor at halftime.

According to Williams, Jamee Greenwood, a member of the Walbrook girls basketball team, was accosted by a male fan.

"They grabbed one of the girls on the butt, and I said, 'Don't do that,' " Williams said. "That's all I said, and they came at me . . . throwing chairs at me and everything." Williams started to walk away, but the men came at him, and he began spraying mace, hitting two of them, he said.

As many people in the crowd of about 500 began rushing out of the stands, Williams attempted to subdue the third man at about midcourt. Then the two men who had been sprayed with mace joined the fight on the floor. The scuffling continued for about three to four minutes before Williams was able reach for his handgun. He pulled it out and pointed at the crowd, which dispersed.

"There wasn't nobody to help me," said Williams, holding the gun in his right hand even after the crowd had begun leaving the gymnasium. "I didn't get help. All that time, nobody helped me, nobody. There was no backup."

School officers for Southern weren't in the gymnasium when the incident began. According to school police officer William Nagle, they were in the school hallways checking for people who were trying sneak in to see the game between the area's No. 3- and No. 5-ranked teams.

One of the men involved the incident was pulled out of the crowd by another person. Williams identified the person to the school officers, but he wasn't arrested.

"We broke up the fight, that's all we had to do," said Nagle. "Just break up the fight and clear the gym and everything was fine. There was just a little overreaction that didn't need to be done.

"We had a whole crowd of people that tried to sneak in and we were chasing them through the building," Nagle said. "Then we came back, we saw it and we ended it real fast. It took us less than 15 seconds, then we got everybody out of here in less than five minutes."

When city police officers arrived, Southern athletic director Jack Nehsmann decided to have the city and school police officers clear the gymnasium.

"We wanted to make sure there wouldn't be any problems," Nehsmann said. "We didn't know if anybody was carrying a weapon or anything, so we wanted to clear the gym and get the problems out of here and make it a safer environment.

"It just happened like a snap of a finger. Everything just exploded. I tried to get out there and chairs were just flying. I almost got hit with a chair, and then the officer pulled out his gun."

It's not certain whether the three men involved in the fight were alumni of either school.

"Identification from our school and the visiting school are needed for admission," Nehsmann said. "Alumni are welcome if they are identified. We don't have I.D. cards for them, but we know who they are. Our athletes who graduated and come back to support us, we know who they are. If we don't identify them, they don't come in.

"We have had no problems up until now."

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