Several comments that suggested shooting unrecognized black men in the Bowleys Quarters neighborhood of Baltimore County sparked outrage on social media Wednesday, including a tweet from Orioles outfielder Adam Jones.
The comments were posted in a Facebook group called the "Bowleys Quarters Social Club" about three black men seen near the Revolea Beach area. One commenter called for neighbors to "just shoot them," another said gun violence was the "only way to resolve the issue," and a third said: "Why wait for them to stick first. get the shot gun lets go hunting! Lol they gonna learn tonight."
The posts, which have since been deleted, were captured and reposted on the page of local blogger A.F. James MacArthur, who goes by "Baltimore Spectator" online. His online article, which contained screen grabs of the comments, was widely spread on Twitter, including by Jones.
"I have a story that I want to shine some light on cause it's just wrong for ppl to continue to think racism is ok," Jones tweeted. "This is not ok. This could be my son and I."
County Council Chairwoman Cathy Bevins, who represents Bowleys Quarters, said she saw the comments Wednesday and added that the Facebook discussion was not reflective of the community.
"I think that was one or two probably ignorant people just not thinking," said Bevins, a Democrat from Middle River.
She said the Bowleys Quarters Social Club page doesn't represent an official community group and often functions as a neighborhood rumor mill.
Bevins acknowledged there may be some racial tensions in Bowleys Quarters and elsewhere in the county, but said she's never heard any racist comments or threats.
"Racism is alive and well, we all know that. It's there," she said. But, she added, "I hate to think that's the thought process of the average person, especially in Bowleys Quarters."
Baltimore County public school officials are reviewing online comments "apparently posted" by Rob Bartosch, a teacher at Stemmers Run Middle School, spokesman Mychael Dickerson said. He declined to comment on the employee's current status with the school system, saying it was a personnel matter.
The district said in a statement that it has "an expectation of behavior, conduct, and setting of an example by our staff when they are inside and outside the school system."
"When an employee's behavior inside or outside of school causes a disruption to the instructional environment, we will thoroughly review the situation," the district said.
Bartosch could not be reached to comment.
Bartosch also is listed online as an adjunct professor with the Community College of Baltimore County.
Sandra Kurtinitis, president of Community College of Baltimore County, released a statement Wednesday on the college's Facebook page, saying it had come to her attention that a CCBC adjunct faculty member "has been quoted as making a disturbing, racist and violent comment." College spokeswoman Hope Hall Davis on Thursday identified the faculty member as Bartosch.
"Our college has zero tolerance for racist and violent comments or behavior of any kind," she said. "I want to assure you that we are taking this situation very seriously. We are actively investigating and taking appropriate action."
Other Facebook commenters on the Bowleys Quarters page could not be reached to comment.
Renee Snow, 45, a Bowleys Quarters resident who administers the Facebook page, said she was "horrified" by the comments on what had been a forum to talk about lost dogs and parent-teacher association meetings.
"Never in my wildest dreams did I think anything would turn so racially charged," she said.
She said her "first instinct" was to immediately take down the comments. She made the group private when members received threats, and she said she'll probably delete the page.
Snow said she didn't check the page daily, but when she began receiving thousands of emails about the posts, she posted a message of her own condemning them. The Facebook group has 1,100 members and was open to the public, she said, and she's not sure whether the commenters were members of the group.
Snow said recent crime in the area has caused neighborhood anxiety, which she believes prompted the initial discussion of the men in the neighborhood — "people trying to share what they're seeing."
The social club is separate from the Bowleys Quarters Community Association. The neighborhood association's vice president, Ron Walper, said the two groups once collaborated on a trash cleanup of Carroll Island.
Baltimore Sun reporters Alison Knezevich and Pamela Wood contributed to this article.