Southwestern student shot in morning school brawl

Neighborhood dispute blamed for altercation

January 14, 1999|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

A Southwestern High School student was shot and several others were injured in a large fight that broke out between two neighborhood groups yesterday morning in front of the school after students piled out of their buses.

"It was a big old brawl," said Baltimore police Detective Shelton Jones, who is investigating the incident.

Between 40 and 60 boys began fighting after boys from the Westport neighborhood got off their bus with baseball bats, screwdrivers and a gun and attacked boys from Lexington Terrace public housing complex, Jones said. They were seeking revenge for a fist fight Tuesday in the school, he said.

When the gun was fired, students scattered and city police caught students running away through a wooded area and into the school.

Teen who was shot is stable

Travis Burley, 16, was in serious but stable condition at Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday evening after he was shot in the right thigh. "There was at least one broken arm, one dislocated arm and one wrist injury" in addition to the shooting victim, Jones said.

The names of those victims were not released.

At least a dozen police officers stood outside the building to keep order as students boarded buses to go home. Several students said they were frightened by the violence. "There is a lot of fighting over where you live at and your territory," said ninth-grader Natalie Summerville.

Pointing to a long line of buses, a student said, "Almost everyone you see getting on the buses is [from] a different neighborhood."

Some students called their parents and asked to be picked up early. Other parents, like Connie Branam, showed up at noon after she heard the news and took her son out. "There might be more shooting when they would get out of school today," she said.

Cause of conflicts

School Police Chief Leonard Hamm said students attend the school from 23 neighborhoods and that has caused conflicts.

The fight occurred despite efforts by the staff and the school's principal to defuse the conflicts, said Christolyne Buie, an area executive officer overseeing the high school. She said the principal had created a committee weeks ago and brought in leaders of the teen-age neighborhood groups, community leaders, parents and representatives from the criminal justice system.

Jones said he has made no arrests in the shooting, but he has a description and nickname of the attacker. He said some of the boys who got off the bus are adults or high school drop-outs in their teens.

The violence at Southwestern occurred one day after Hamm reported to the city school board that crime and violent incidents had decreased in the school system as a whole, but not at Southwestern.

School board officials were told that some of the students who had caused problems earlier in the school year at Southern had been transferred to Southwestern.

But school officials said last night they were not sure if a connection existed between the violence that erupted yesterday and the transfer of those students.

Pub Date: 1/14/99

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