Brawl spurs police vigil at high school Two rival groups fought at Douglass

September 16, 1993|By Gary Gately | Gary Gately,Staff Writer Staff writer Laura Lippman contributed to this article.

As students poured out of Frederick Douglass High School yesterday, 75 police officers kept a wary watch on the crowd. A police helicopter buzzed overhead for 40 minutes. And parents and students wondered what it would take to end a long-simmering feud that had escalated into a bloody brawl the day before.

Across the street from Douglass after school ended Tuesday, about 300 teen-agers -- members of rival neighborhood groups -- battled in a Mondawmin Mall parking lot with an array of weapons including 5-foot-long steel poles and slabs of wood, witnesses said.

More than 100 officers from the city, school, Mass Transit Administration and mall police forces rushed to the scene, where witnesses reported some youngsters covered with blood, bruises and makeshift bandages.

City police reported no gunfire Tuesday but arrested four juveniles on handgun-possession charges.

A 19-year-old told police he had been stabbed three times in the neck while walking out of a nearby Burger King. Nobody has been charged in the stabbing, which caused superficial wounds, police said.

Students and school police said the brawl stemmed from a fight Friday between members of two rival groups, "R and G," for Reisterstown and Gwynns Falls, an intersection near the school, and "the Whitelocks," for Whitelock Street, in Reservoir Hill about 12 blocks away.

Douglass, which has 1,400 students, draws from both neighborhoods, but many of those involved apparently were not students at the school, police and school officials said.

Dozens of parents, concerned for their children's safety, showed up yesterday afternoon to pick up their children or walk them to the nearby subway.

A few of the parents, including Noble Campbell, volunteered to help police keep an eye out for trouble brewing.

Just before the 3 p.m. dismissal, Mr. Campbell stood on a hillside awaiting his 15-year-old son, Dedric, a junior.

"Used to be, you have a little fight and that's it," said Mr. Campbell, 40, who wore a black Star Trek T-shirt. "Now they bring weapons, and before you know it, it's a gang thing."

Students, some of whom said they had fought Tuesday, predicted that the violence would continue and that it probably would break out at or near the school, where rumors of another eruption yesterday prompted the police to turn out in force.

"This feud's never going to stop; it's just taking off like a rocket," said Shakaisha Taylor, a 14-year-old ninth-grader.

"It's like a family thing, a battle between families, and they'll keep fighting to see who's best."

But nobody could say precisely when the rivalry began -- or why.

Aaron Chase, a 16-year-old 10th-grader who describes himself as an ROTC student and a member of "R and G," said he felt compelled to fight Tuesday out of a sense of duty.

"I'm defending my neighborhood; it's about respect," he said. "People beat up somebody from my neighborhood."

And what would a brawl involving 300 people accomplish?

"I don't know, really," he said, "I just hope it ends."

So does Richard Damon, one of two school police officers assigned to Douglass. The two have tear gas, handcuffs and a police radio, but no guns.

"It's really scary," said Officer Damon, who has been on the job for five years. "It could be a very explosive situation. What if they go and start shooting next time? There'd be nothing we could do but get out of the way."

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