Baltimore police were investigating the bludgeoning death early yesterday of an 18-year-old city man at a party that drew 400 people to celebrate the professional basketball draft of former Baltimore high school star Mark Karcher.
Stanley J. White Jr. of the 2700 block of Beryl Ave. was killed in a fight about 2:30 a.m. yesterday as the party celebrating Karcher's draft by the Philadelphia 76ers was breaking up at the lodge of Teamsters Union Local 557 in the 6000 block of Erdman Ave.
Karcher, 21, who starred at St. Frances Academy in East Baltimore before playing for Temple University in Philadelphia, spent about 10 minutes at the gathering and left about 90 minutes before the fight erupted, said a manager of the Teamsters hall.
Police said only a dozen of the 400 people who attended remained by the time they arrived at the hall on an industrial stretch of Erdman Avenue in East Baltimore. Even the disc jockey had packed and was gone.
"That's how fast they got out of there," homicide detective Kenneth Welsh said. "Apparently, it was very quiet for 99 percent of the night, and right as it closed, it got crazy."
While police searched for suspects, witnesses and a motive, they said it appeared that White was attacked by several men wielding beer bottles.
"It was a real melee," Welsh said. "There were chairs being thrown, and broken bottles everywhere."
White was taken to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Before attending the party, White had helped his mother unload packages from her car. He did not tell his mother where he was going, said his aunt, Cathy White of Baltimore.
"He was not the type for partying and going out," she said. "He was quiet. He was not an extrovert, not very sociable and outgoing. ... He liked to listen to music. He liked to play with his cousins."
Wes Souders, manager of the Teamsters hall, said some of his co-workers predicted the party would draw a raucous crowd. He said he normally doesn't rent space to events that attract young crowds "because of the violence, the nature of the people they draw." But he said he knew the promoter's mother, so agreed to make the hall available.
The promoter hired security and charged $15 per person, Souders said.
As the disc jockey was playing his final song, the manager said several screaming women rushed past him.
"When I came in and turned the lights on, there were four guys in the middle of the floor, pushing and fighting," he said. "They kept working their way toward the front. The next thing, I heard a big thump. I didn't know what it was."
Souders said he couldn't see what the altercation was about.
Karcher, 21, was the leading scorer for Temple during each of the past two seasons before entering the NBA draft as a junior. The 6-foot-5, 215-pound forward was selected by Philadelphia late in the second round during last month's draft.
He was named a McDonald's All-American during his senior year at St. Frances. He led the school to three consecutive Catholic League titles.
His grandmother, Eunice Lewis, said yesterday from her home in East Baltimore that she had not seen Karcher or spoken with him about the most recent fracas.
"He hasn't been here today," Lewis said. "I don't approve of parties."