About 60 young people who had gathered to swim and picnic at the Loch Raven Reservoir yesterday evening were ordered to strip and then robbed by a group of gunmen - an audacious crime remarkable for the large number of victims, Baltimore County police said.
The young people, many of them students at Sparrows Point High School, had assembled at a popular swimming hole about 6 p.m. when several suspects carrying guns approached and demanded that they remove their clothes, police said.
The robbers, described as teen-agers, ordered several to jump into the water, the police said. Then they rifled through the piles of shed belongings - stealing cash, jewelry, cell phones and other valuables.
A gun was fired into the air once, and one victim was struck with a pistol, but no one was seriously injured, police said.
Calls to 911 poured into the Baltimore County Police Department, and officers arriving at the sprawling reservoir spotted a departing car with an occupant who matched a suspect's description.
Police stopped the car, searched it and found stolen belongings and several guns. Officers arrested all three occupants.
They later arrested three other people, but a police spokesman could not say where these three were found or how officers connected them to the robbery.
The suspects were being questioned and had yet to be formally charged as of late last night.
The young victims, ages 15 to 21, had assembled at a swimming and cookout spot at the intersection Loch Raven Drive and Morgan Mill Road that attracts droves of people on warm summer evenings. Swimming is prohibited in the reservoir, which supplies drinking water to Baltimore residents.
The police said many were students from Sparrows Point High, a school in southeastern Baltimore County that is about 20 minutes by car from the site of the attack.
"This is a very bold crime. This is really very bizarre," said the school's principal, Wayne Thibeault, noting that his students come from the tight-knit community of Edgemere, sometimes called the "Mayberry of Baltimore County."
Detectives believe the assailants had planned the robbery to take advantage of the gathering. "Somebody knew they were going to be at that spot," said Cpl. Vickie Warehime, the police spokeswoman.
"What's unusual is the fact that you have this many people," she added. "To have 60 people the victim of a crime is large amount of people at on time."