Dispute between Howard, Oakland Mills students erupts into fight


A long-time dispute between a Howard High School senior and an Oakland Mills High School student -- possibly over a girl -- erupted into a brawl in Columbia on Friday night, leaving the senior hospitalized with critical head injuries, Howard County police said.

Sean Anthony Sherman, 18, of the 5900 block of Elk Forest Court in Elkridge, was being treated at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center yesterday for a closed-head wound.

A hospital spokesman said Mr. Sherman was listed in critical but stable condition.

His father told Howard High Principal Eugene Streagle yesterday morning that the teen was unconscious.

Howard County police said they are investigating three people in connection with the attack but would not give their names. No arrests had been made by yesterday afternoon, said Sgt. Steve Keller, a police spokesman.

According to police and students, rumor of a dispute between two students had spread for weeks. Mr. Streagle said he thought the animosity was over a girl.

About 9:40 on Friday, the two students and a large group of their friends met on the parking lot at Oakland Mills High School in the 9400 block of Kilimanjaro Road, police said.

The two students approached each other and began fighting. Shortly afterward, police say, "multiple combatants" joined in the fight. At one point, Mr. Sherman was struck in the head with an unknown object -- some students say it was a beer bottle -- and fell to the ground, police said.

"Then everybody took off," Sergeant Keller said.

One of Mr. Sherman's friends dragged him to a vehicle and drove him to help, students say. In the meantime, someone called 911. Emergency officials drove to the Columbia high school around 9:50, but no one was there, said Lt. Ken Byerly, spokesman for the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue.

When rescue workers returned to the Long Reach station, a half-mile away, they found Mr. Sherman there, Lieutenant Byerly said.

Police were called and Mr. Sherman was taken to the trauma center in downtown Baltimore.

Mr. Streagle said high school administrators are not investigating the incident, because it was not on school grounds or during school hours.

"It is not any school action," Mr. Streagle said. "We just want to know exactly what went on so that we can prevent anything else from happening. . . . Our primary concern, of course, is the condition of the young man."

Students at Howard High School and at Oakland Mills High School said the student brawl was different from others only because of the serious injury.

They said some of the brawlers had confronted each other in the past but had not actually fought until Friday.

"This happens all the time," said Tari Mitchell, a senior at Oakland Mills High School. "They fight over dumb stuff. It's just ignorant."

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