Baltimore County police arrest 18-year-old after Perry Hall High School fight depicted in viral video

An 18-year-old man was arrested Friday in connection with a fight in the parking lot of Perry Hall High School that had been videotaped and circulated widely, raising safety concerns.

The video showed someone carrying what looked to be a gun, and police said Friday it has been recovered and found to be an Airsoft replica weapon, which shoots pellets.

Police identified the 18-year-old as Darren Keith Bennett Jr. of the 3900 block of Mewswood Lane in Nottingham. He has been charged with possessing a weapon on school property, disturbing school operations and disturbing the peace.

Police said he was denied bail and was being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center. Police said they have also identified other people believed to be involved in the fight, which occurred Thursday.

Baltimore County police had been patrolling the area around the high school on Friday after the video of the fight circulated.

Police had been called to the school around noon Thursday for reports of a fight but the scene had cleared by the time they arrived, a spokesman said.

Many Perry Hall parents received a letter Thursday evening regarding the incident. The letter stated that safety and security of students is a top priority.

“The incident is being investigated but according to police, there was no credible threat to students or staff today,” district spokeswoman Dolores Pierorazio wrote in an email.

State Sen. Katherine Klausmeier said she was frustrated that she heard about the incident through the grapevine and social media instead of from school system officials.

Klausmeier, a Democrat who represents Baltimore County, said on the Senate floor Friday morning that school officials need to communicate with elected officials, who can help disseminate information to communities.

Baltimore County Councilman David Marks condemned the incident in a Facebook post, and sent a letter to county schools Superintendent Verletta White stating that “public safety must be a core priority for the Baltimore County Public School system.” He said that any student who carries a gun, or replica of a gun, on school property should be expelled.

“It’s time for the school system to step up and do everything possible to guarantee a culture of discipline at Perry Hall High School,” Marks, a Perry Hall graduate, said in his Facebook post.

Baltimore County police have increased presence around Perry Hall once before during this school year. According to police, in November a student passed out flyers in school that made “vague comments” warning others not to come to school the next day.

The school deemed the threat not credible, but some parents kept their children home. Pierorazio said the flyers were a “hoax” created as a joke, and the school took disciplinary actions against students involved.

In 2012, a 15-year-old Perry Hall student opened fire in the cafeteria on the first day of school, shooting a 17-year-old. Robert W. Gladden Jr. pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Baltimore Sun reporters Pamela Wood and Jean Marbella contributed to this article.

trichman@baltsun.com

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