Man hospitalized with skull fractures after downtown attack

A 32-year-old man is in critical condition after being attacked in the middle of the day on a downtown Baltimore street, according to his family and police. 

John Mason has been hospitalized since Friday in an induced coma with three skull fractures as a result of the attack, which police believe occurred at about 2 p.m. on Friday at Lombard and Howard streets, near the Bromo Seltzer tower. Mason's aunt, Christina Jasi, said he had shoe prints bruised into his head.

Police said that witnesses said Mason was attacked by a group of four to five males. He was disoriented and combative when emergency personnel arrived on the scene, which they believe was a result of brain swelling. 

A motive is not known; Jasi said nothing was taken from Mason, but police speculated that the attack may have been an attempted robbery. 

Jasi said Mason lives in the 300 block of Cathedral Street, where he draws tattoos out of his home. Recently released from prison, she said he kept to himself and is dating a woman who works downtown, and was traveling back after getting lunch with her. 

"It's a 50/50 chance of survival," Jasi said. "Once he makes it past 72 hours, his chance of survival increases. The only reason we know what happened is because the doctor saw footprints on his head. They were able to tell us there are scrapes on both knees and palms, and maybe he was hit in the head and fell, and then from there was brutally kicked in the head."

Jasi said police did not get involved until many hours later. Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman, said patrol officers were involved in the initial call for an injured person, and only later were able to determine what happened and contacted district detectives, who investigate serious assaults. 

Guglielmi said detectives were pulling cameras from the area to try to get more leads. 

Detectives in Southeast Baltimore are also investigating the robbery of a 75-year-old woman early in the day in the Fells Point area.

In Fells Point, police said a 75-year-old woman withdrew cash from an ATM in the 2100 block of Eastern Ave. at about 11:45 a.m. and was followed by a man, who escorted her to near a home and then demanded her cash at gunpoint. The woman was not harmed. The suspect is described as a black male, between ages 30 and 40, with medium build and wearing a blue jacket, police say.

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