Two teens charged in beating of classmate

Police say attack at Northern High was gang-related

November 14, 2001|By Del Quentin Wilber and Liz Bowie | Del Quentin Wilber and Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Two Northern High School students have been charged in the near-fatal beating of a classmate Friday that police said sprang from a dispute between two gangs.

The two 15-year-old boys were identified yesterday as Steven McCullough, a ninth-grader who lives in the 4200 block of Belmar Ave., and Sean Cox, a 10th-grader who lives in the 6100 block of Alta Ave. Both were arrested at their homes late Monday and charged as adults with attempted murder and assault.

Police said they were seeking 11 others who were involved in the beating, which started around 9 a.m. Friday about 100 yards from the school.

The victim, Willie Reese, 15, a ninth-grader, was listed yesterday in critical but stable condition at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His mother, Linda Reese, said the boy was making steady progress toward recovery.

She laid the blame for her son's injuries on school officials.

"I'm quite sure they should have" prevented it, Reese said.

Reese said that when she attended orientation this year, school officials promised that the school was safe. "They said, `This isn't the old Northern, this is the new Northern. There is a new sheriff in town,'" Reese said. "The picture they painted is not what it was. That just beats all."

Questions about security in the school and what actions the school system has taken since the beating Friday went unanswered yesterday. The school system's chief executive officer, Carmen V. Russo, did not return phone calls yesterday, nor did the chief of school police. Northern Principal Betty Donaldson declined to comment.

Northern has a long history of gang-related violence, although discipline at the school had improved under a new principal, Helena Noble-Jones, in 1999 and 2000.

The beating began when Reese walked off an MTA bus near the school and tried to run away when 13 boys approached him, police said.

The group beat him with fists and kicked him, police said. One attacker smashed a baseball bat over his head, breaking it in half, police said. The boys then stripped off Reese's pants and shoes and left him bleeding on the ground until paramedics arrived, police said.

Police said the fight sprang from a dispute between the Old York City gang and the Bel Air/Alameda Boys. On Thursday, the gangs gave each other ugly looks in the school cafeteria, police said.

A few hours later, members of both groups got into a fight during a football practice, police said. Police said they never heard about the fight from school officials.

Police also said that Reese was probably not involved in earlier altercations but hung out with the boys in the Bel Air/Alameda group.

Reese said her son is a "fun-loving person" who makes everyone around him laugh.

Anyone with information is urged to call Detective Gregory Jenkins at 410-396-2444.

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