A group of young people put a gun to the head of a 64-year-old man reading a book at the Wyman Park Dell, sprayed him with Mace and stabbed him before stealing his belongings — an attack that they recorded on video and posted on Facebook, city police revealed Friday.
Police announced the arrests of two people in connection with the daytime crime, which occurred Monday, and said the group is believed to be responsible for other recent robberies. At least one of the suspects has already been charged in another robbery earlier this month, of a pizza delivery driver who was choked until she nearly lost consciousness.
Zannay Laws and Dakei Perry, both 18, were charged Thursday with attempted murder and robbery, police said. In charging documents for Laws, police wrote that she admitted standing with the attackers and recording the Wyman Park attack with her cellphone and posting to Facebook.
City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, who represents the district in which the park is located, said the video posting takes her outrage "to new levels."
"Here's a man sitting on a bench, reading a book in the park," she said. "To think that it was actually planned and recorded to be publicized is just beyond understanding. It's outrageous.
"What in the world would inspire a person to take part in such an assault and want other people to share it?" Clarke said "It's sick."
The victim was sitting on a bench about 5 p.m. in the North Baltimore park near the Johns Hopkins University and the Baltimore Museum of Art when the suspects surrounded him and asked where they could exchange foreign money, police said.
One of the suspects placed a gun to his head, demanding money and property. Another stabbed him in his lower back, then a third sprayed him with Mace. Police say in charging documents that Laws was streaming video of the attack to Facebook.
The victim was stabbed again, in the right arm, before the suspects fled with his iPhone, his North Face backpack and $60 in cash.
Police spokesman T.J. Smith said a citizen tip helped lead police to the suspects, and suggested the Facebook posts were helpful to investigators.
"Criminals do some crazy things," Smith said. "They record themselves committing crimes, and we thank them for it. We encourage the criminals to continue to record your acts, and encourage citizens to continue to send us information when you find the criminal wrongdoing on camera and on social media."
Smith said detectives were working to confirm the identities of the other two suspects, but said they believe the group has committed a series of crimes in the area. Smith called it a "little crime spree."
"We've said it over and over and over again, that our violence is committed by a small group of people who repeatedly do it," he said. "This group is a perfect example of that."
Perry also has been charged in an attack Sept. 7 on a female pizza delivery driver.
The victim said she had been sent to deliver an order to the 2400 block of Loyola Northway, in the Greenspring neighborhood of Northwest Baltimore. She knocked on the door and received no answer, and walked back to her car past a group of three males. One of them suddenly grabbed her by her neck and began choking her.
The other two went through her pockets, removing her cellphone and her money.
Police said they were investigating other robberies in the 2400 block of Loyola Northway, including that of a cabdriver, when they found Perry this week, who was taken into custody for questioning.
Police say Perry confessed to placing the food order and said two men who were with him attacked the driver.
Afterward, he told officers, they went to an apartment and ate the food they had stolen, according to police.
The victim said all three males had participated in the robbery.
Across the city, robberies continue to rise. There have been 13 percent more robberies committed so far this year, a rise from 3,126 at this time last year to 3,523 this year. Carjackings are up 43 percent, while street robberies have increased 17 percent, though commercial robberies have declined about 10 percent.
Sandy Sparks, president of the Charles Village Civic Association and a founder of Friends of Wyman Park Dell, said she hoped the crime wouldn't deter people from visiting the park, which she said is safe.
"We've worked very hard to make the dell a beautiful, restful place," Sparks said. "The last thing we want is to have the impression that it's not safe to go there."
Laws was ordered held without bond Friday, while Perry was initially ordered held on $50,000 bond and a District Court judge ordered him held without bond at a bail review. Neither appears to have a prior criminal record. Attorneys were not yet listed in court records.
Baltimore Sun reporter Alison Knezevich contributed to this article.