Shopping center melee probed Police arrest five and seek four others

fight included gunshot

January 19, 1996|By Amy L. Miller and Mike Farabaugh | Amy L. Miller and Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Taneytown police are looking for four teen-age boys thought to have been involved in a shopping center fight Wednesday night in which a gun was fired into the air.

Witnesses say the melee, which started about 6 p.m. in the Taneytown Shopping Center parking lot, involved about 20 teen-agers known for socializing in the area.

Police said yesterday that Wednesday's argument was the continuation of a fight that started at a party last weekend.

But accounts vary as to how troublesome the youths have been to local residents.

"You wouldn't believe the crimes these kids have been involved with lately," said Taneytown Pfc. Edward Engel, who arrested five young men Wednesday evening.

"We're in the process of taking back the streets from the juveniles," said Taneytown police Chief Melvin Diggs.

However, some residents said yesterday that they hadn't noticed a problem with the youths in general, who often socialize near the McDonald's restaurant in the shopping center parking lot.

"We're like every other community," Mayor W. Robert Flickinger said. "I thought there were just little groups of teen-agers hanging around and shooting the breeze."

According to police reports, while Private Engel was interviewing witnesses about the fight Wednesday night, a group of teen-agers screamed obscenities at the officer.

Police said several witnesses told Private Engel that one boy had shot a gun in the air.

While the officer was interviewing witnesses, a silver, four-door Nissan drove through the parking lot. One witness told him the occupants had been involved in the fight.

trooper and a Carroll County sheriff's deputy he asked to assist him -- stopped and searched the car in a Shell gas station parking lot.

Officers said they found a pack of rolling papers on the --board and a trace amount of suspected marijuana in a plastic bag in a compact disc case on the floor.

'Zero tolerance'

"I've got zero tolerance," Private Engel said. "If I find a seed [of marijuana] on them, I'm going to charge them."

A sheriff's department bomb detection dog indicated that a gun had been inside the vehicle recently.

All five occupants of the car -- two men and three 16-year-old boys, all of Taneytown -- were charged with possession of marijuana and possession of paraphernalia.

In addition, they were charged with disorderly conduct for their alleged role in the earlier fight.

Police identified the adults as Corey Coil, 18, of the 4600 block of Buffington Lane and Chris Narwrocki, 20, of York Street.

In addition, one of the juveniles was charged with two counts of battery on a police officer and malicious destruction of property after he became unruly in the Taneytown police station Wednesday night, police said.

Police said the youth was told to sit in a chair, but instead punched Taneytown police Officer Bill Tyler in the stomach.

As sheriff's Deputy Brad Brown tried to help Officer Tyler, the youth began to kick the deputy, police said.

Several items of Police Department property were destroyed in the fracas, police said.

'It's scary'

Attitudes varied yesterday among shopping center employees about whether Wednesday's fight was a unique situation or a symptom of a more severe problem.

Stacey DeGroft, 23, a McDonald's employee, described it as a "gang situation, black and white teen-agers from the west side [of Taneytown] coming over to hassle the east-side gang."

"It's scary," she said, adding that the youths have shaved heads and wear baggy pants, shirts and oversized shoes. "I just wish it all would come to an end with no gangs, or nothing."

Gene Crocetti, 68, agreed, saying drugs are a problem in Taneytown. "The only way to get these drug people out is to rough 'em up," said Mr. Crocetti, who moved to Taneytown from Eldersburg last year.

But others defended the teen-agers, saying the youths are merely hanging out in the parking lot and not causing trouble.

Rebecca Myers, 41, a video store employee, said the teen-agers may shave their heads, "but they are not true skinheads, with the Nazi tattoos."

"I leave here most weekend nights about 10:30 p.m. and I don't feel threatened if I see a crowd of teens sitting out in cars on the parking lot," she said. "They have to have someplace to socialize, so they come here."

Mrs. Myers said the teen-agers have helped her in the past, fixing a flat tire on her car late one night.

"This is the first time anything like [a shot being fired] has happened here," Mrs. Myers said.

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