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Harborplace attack fails to deter visitor from Va.


A group of thugs made lewd remarks to his wife and nearly took out his eye with a box-cutter razor, but Lamont Valdez said yesterday he still loves to visit the Inner Harbor.

"They were a bunch of knuckleheads looking for trouble. You find those types anywhere," said Mr. Valdez, 25, who was attacked Saturday while visiting Harborplace on a day trip from Alexandria, Va.

"But I'm not going to let them stop me from enjoying the Inner Harbor. It's beautiful there," he said from his bed at home, where he is recuperating from four slash wounds.

A violent attack may be no surprise in some areas of Baltimore, but a knifing is out of character for Harborplace, police say, calling it "the safest place in the world."

Mr. Valdez and his wife, Katrina, had been walking with another couple through the food hall at the Light Street Pavilion at 8 p.m. when a group of about five men walked past. One of the men brushed up against Mr. Valdez' wife and made an indecent comment.

"I stopped and said to him, 'What did you say to my wife?' " said Mr. Valdez, who is a security guard in Washington. "He just said, 'What?' and he swung his arm and cut me" on the right eyebrow, Mr. Valdez said.

A friend, Eric S. Johnson, 23, came to Mr. Valdez's aid. During the ensuing skirmish with the group, Mr. Valdez was slashed three times on the back and Mr. Johnson was cut on the neck and shoulder.

Both men were treated and released from the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

Police believe two of the attackers were armed with box-cutter razors. The group of men was last seen running down Light Street. One of them dropped a photograph that is believed to show three of the men involved in the attack, but police said no arrests had been made as of last night.

Police said the 26 officers assigned to patrol a 14-block area that includes the Inner Harbor report little violent crime. Instead, the officers typically contend with shoplifters, an occasional disorderly person and beggars.

"That attack was a rare incident," said Lt. Robert F. Smith, who heads the Inner Harbor patrol. "We don't have a violent crime situation here."

Lieutenant Smith said people should keep valuables secured while visiting the harbor but "they shouldn't think that someone is going to jump out of a hole and grab them. That's not going to happen.

"It's the safest place in the world."

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