The violent neighborhood in between

The two boys are 14, and the girl is 16. They look even younger in their mug shots, like kids apprehensive about posing for school pictures.

Baltimore police say one boy asked for change for a $5 bill from a man Monday afternoon on Maryland Avenue. When the man said he didn't have any, police say the other boy plunged a knife into the right side of his back and left him for dead near the University of Baltimore Law School campus.

The victim, bleeding profusely, tried to snap pictures of the fleeing assailants with his cell phone. Later, when one boy asked the other why he stabbed the man, the first youth answered: "He had change, he should have gave it to you." The exchange was recounted in a court document.

Police chased one youth across the rooftops along Hargrove Avenue and captured him with the other two behind one of the suspect's houses in the 1700 block of St. Paul St. Police said in court documents that an officer spotted one boy using grass to wipe a blade clean of blood.

The police report and other documents filed in court describe a callous attack on a Monday afternoon that left Keith Counsell, 37, recovering from a stab wound and people who live along and use the streets near Penn Station again pondering neighborhood crime.

In July, Johns Hopkins researcher Stephen Pitcairn, 23, was robbed and stabbed to death in the 2600 bock of St. Paul Street in Charles Village. Counsell was robbed and stabbed about 3:30 p.m. Monday in Mid-Town Belvedere, on Maryland Avenue near the Jones Falls Expressway.

Both victims were walking home — Pitcairn toward Charles Village, Counsell toward Mid-Town Belvedere and Mount Vernon — neighborhoods on opposite sides of North Avenue, a gritty four-lane road that police describe as a route for shuttling drugs to and from the city's east and west sides. A militarized zone between two demilitarized areas to the north and south.

City officials have long been working to transform this midsection near Penn Station by turning it into an arts district, and there's been some success. Restaurants and art galleries have popped up, and some rowhouses have been refurbished. Greenmount West has been rebranded Station North.

The area where Counsell was stabbed and from which Pitcairn walked home on the night of his death has the infrastructure of a safe community. It's near a college campus, the University of Baltimore School of Law, the Lyric Opera House and the arts district. Within blocks, you can catch the Bolt bus to New York, the MARC commuter train to Washington or Amtrak to San Francisco.

But it's still a neighborhood in transition.

On Tuesday morning, Orion Furmanski, 35, stood at a bus stop on St. Paul Street by Penn Station and across the street from Kader's Cafe Mocha, on the ground floor of the once-abandoned Parcel Post Station that now advertises loft apartments and a Zip Car stand with pamphlets urging people to "live in your neighborhood."

A former resident of Indianapolis and Miami, he said he chose to live in Mount Vernon "because I thought this was one of the safest neighborhoods."

Furmanski, a postdoctoral biology student at the Johns Hopkins University, said he had heard about Pitcairn but not about the stabbing on Monday. He ticked off Baltimore festivals that he thought were "just great," including Artscape, and said he still feels safe waiting for the bus on St. Paul Street.

"I guess we're just in proximity to some questionable neighborhoods," he said.

Monday's attack occurred about four blocks away. The police report says Counsell was crossing the 1500 block of Maryland Ave., near the Jones Falls Expressway, when a youth in a black T-shirt asked, "Do you have change for a $5 bill?"

"No, I don't have any money," Counsell replied, according to the report.

Seconds later, Counsell heard someone yell "Bitch" and "then felt a sharp stab and immediate pain on the right side of his back," the police report says. He turned and saw the youth who had asked him for money running away with a young female, he told police.

The suspects — Lawrence Antonio Horton Jr., 14, of East Baltimore; Keith Omar Anderson, 14, of Glen Burnie and Daysha Wilson, 16, of East Baltimore — were ordered held without bail and were placed in a part of the city jail used for juveniles charged as adults.

Charging documents identify Horton as the youth who asked for change and Anderson as the one who stabbed him. Anderson told police he went back to the wounded man and asked if he was OK.

According to charging documents, the girl broke down crying and told police, "I didn't know he would actually do it. I'm not a mind reader. How was I supposed to know he was going to stab him?"

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