Five Elkton High School students have been charged in the brawl after a boys basketball game Feb. 28 at Harford Technical High School that left one Tech student unconscious, the Harford County Sheriff's Office confirmed this week.
The incident was the second time this season that violent activity took place during a game between Elkton High and a Harford County boys team.
On Jan. 4, an "incident" happened during Joppatowne High's trip to Elkton, according to Harford County Public Schools, which has declined to elaborate, citing student privacy. As a result, when Elkton came to Joppatowne for the rematch Jan. 27, no spectators were permitted to attend.
After the Feb. 28 game at Tech, which Harford Tech won, it became apparent to Tech administrators there was tension from the Elkton team, Cristie Kahler, spokesperson for the Harford County Sheriff's Office, said Wednesday. They were quick to usher the Tech team out of the gym.
"The Tech administration saw it coming," Kahler said, adding the Elkton players appeared tense during the post-game handshake, "and they got the team out of the gym."
The fight started on the players' side of the gym then spread to the fans' side, where mayhem ensued in a brawl between Elkton players and fans and Tech fans, one of whom was knocked to the floor unconcious. He was taken to a local hospital and has since returned to school, Kahler said.
The incident drew nearly two dozen law enforcement officers from the Sheriff's Office, Maryland State Police and Aberdeen, Bel Air and Havre de Grace police departments after a deputy providing security at the game out out an "all call," or Signal 13, when any available officer in the area comes to assist, Kahler said.
No charges were filed the night of the fight, but in the days that followed, copies of videos taken of the incident were sent to the sheriff's office, Kahler said, and the sheriff's office examined each of them.
One of them is available on Twitter.
The students charged are all juniors at Elkton High; they are charged through the Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.
Four males and one female were each charged with disrupting school operations. The female was charged with two additional counts of second-degree assault for striking a teacher and student.
One male was charged with disorderly conduct. The three remaining males were each charged with one count each of second-degree assault. One assaulted a teacher and two continued the assault on the student who had already been knocked unconscious.
Suspects were determined by a combination of eyewitness accounts from both students, teachers and spectators as well as multiple video recordings, according to Kahler.
The investigation is ongoing, Kahler said, with more interviews done Wednesday.
"We're going to continue to make sure there aren't any more victims, any more suspects," she said.
Gahler said in a news release that he is committed to making Harford County a safe place to live, work, visit and go to school and that this type of behavior will not be tolerated.
He offered praise for the quick actions of the deputies and allied law enforcement who swiftly cleared the gymnasium and minimized injury to students, faculty and spectators.
Gahler also thanked the administration and coaches at both Harford Technical and Elkton high schools for their complete cooperation and attention to this investigation.
Cecil County Public Schools may impose additional sanctions against the students, according to the Sheriff's Office. This investigation remains open and the Harford County Sheriff's Office asks that if anyone has additional cell phone video, to please submit it.
Tech's girls team was scheduled to play Elkton the following day at Tech, but the game was moved to Havre de Grace High School, a neutral site, and was limited to coaches, players and administrators.
"We are working with Cecil County Public Schools superintendent and staff to prevent incidents at future activities between our various athletic events, however, no other changes have been made at this time," Jillian Lader, manager of communications for the Harford school system, said.
The school system issued the following statement the night of the event: "We are deeply disappointed by the fight that occurred this evening and that people attending the game felt the need to turn to violence. This is not acceptable. We will continue to work closely with the Sheriff's Office to assist them in their investigation in any way that we can. We thank the Sheriff's Office, the staff of Harford Technical High School and those spectators who put themselves in harm's way as they attempted to diffuse the situation."