Students arrested in fights

March 24, 1994|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,Sun Staff Writer

Anne Arundel County police have arrested three Severna Park High School students since Tuesday and were expected to arrest five more yesterday, after a student brought an unloaded handgun to school and others were involved in fights allegedly sparked by a racial slur.

Investigators didn't know whether the 16-year-old girl accused of bringing the unloaded .22-caliber handgun to school yesterday did so because of the fights. A police spokesman said the girl refused to talk to detectives.

Police and students interviewed yesterday said the fighting began Monday afternoon when a group of black students beat up a 16-year-old white male student they accused of uttering a racial slur last week.

On Tuesday, a group of black students attacked another white student who apparently had tried to break up Monday's altercation.

Jane Doyle, a spokeswoman for the Anne Arundel County school system, said three of the arrested students, including the 16-year-old accused of carrying the handgun, have been suspended.

Eight of the youths involved in the fights have or will be charged as juveniles with assault and battery, according to Officer Terry Crowe, a police spokesman. The 16-year-old girl will be charged as an adult on a weapons charge, he said. All the teens charged in connection to the fights are black, police said.

"At this point, the only crime we have evidence to is the fact there was a physical assault," said Officer Crowe.

Carol S. Parham, the county school superintendent, was not available to answer questions yesterday.

Ms. Doyle said counselors are on standby, but Severna Park's principal, Olliver Wittig, has not requested outside help.

Ninety-one percent of the school's 1,662 students are white; 6 percent are black, Ms. Doyle said.

Dick Morgan, the PTA president, said he and other parents met with Mr. Wittig Tuesday night and expressed their concern for their children's safety.

Students interviewed after dismissal yesterday afternoon said the school's atmosphere was "tense," with many white students uttering racial slurs.

"I don't think it's going to get better," said Monique Washington, 19, a black senior. "It's going to get worse. I think if the kids could keep their comments to themselves, none of this would get started."

A 15-year-old sophomore, who said he was charged in connection with Monday's fight, said he stepped in to break up the scuffle, but then hit the white teen in the jaw after being pushed. He said the teen "was getting smart with people. He had it coming."

The sophomore, whom The Sun is not naming because he faces juvenile charges, said he was angry that only the black students were charged. "The other kid is still in school," he said. "No white kids got in trouble."

Police said the initial fight occurred about 2:30 p.m. Monday at the white student's locker, when a group of black male students questioned him about his involvement in making racial slurs.

Authorities said the white student denied making any slurs, but allegedly was beaten by the group of 10 students. He had bruises and a reddened eye, but refused medical treatment.

The second fight occurred outside the lunchroom about 11 a.m. Tuesday. Police said a white student who had tried to break up the earlier fight was kicked, punched and pushed to the ground. He had injuries to his face, eye and was bleeding from the head.

Police said they arrested a 17-year-old student Tuesday, took him from his Severna Park home to the Eastern District police station, charged him on a juvenile citation and released him.

The 15-year-old was arrested a short time later. Police said they were planning to visit the homes of five other students late last night to file the remainder of the charges.

The 16-year-old girl was arrested yesterday morning after another student allegedly saw her take out the weapon in a crafts class.

Jen Hatch, 18, a senior, said a student reported the gun to v vTC substitute teacher. The girl allegedly ran out of class and hid the weapon.

Officer Randy Bell, a county police spokesman, said officials did not find the gun until yesterday afternoon, and had to have a janitor retrieve it from a wall vent.

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