Six Men Charged In Knife Attacks

Capt. Russell Hamill, left, director of the Special  Investigation Division, and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger talk about the arrests in Friday's stabbings.
Capt. Russell Hamill, left, director of the Special Investigation Division, and Police Chief J. Thomas Manger talk about the arrests in Friday's stabbings. (By Katherine Frey For The Washington Post)

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By Cameron W. Barr and Fredrick Kunkle
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, August 7, 2005

Montgomery County police charged six young men yesterday in the knife attacks that wounded several teenagers Friday and acknowledged that the stabbings were the most serious gang violence the county has seen.

Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, was linked to the stabbings at a Colesville area high school that injured two youths, a county prosecutor said. Another official said the gang also was part of the attacks a few hours later at a Wheaton shopping plaza.

"Rarely, if ever, do you see the level of violence in our county that we saw yesterday," County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) said at a news conference at police headquarters yesterday. "It's clearly a wake-up call, not just to Montgomery County but to the entire region."

MS-13 was established in the 1980s in Los Angeles by Salvadoran immigrants as a defense against Mexican gangs. It now operates in more than 30 states as well as parts of Central America.

In the Washington region, the organization has appeared most active in Northern Virginia. In June, a federal jury in Alexandria sentenced two MS-13 members to life in prison for killing a 17-year-old after she had cooperated with authorities in investigations of the gang.

Friday's stabbings injured six teenagers, five seriously, but police said yesterday that all are expected to live.

County Police Chief J. Thomas Manger declined to name the gangs that officials believe are responsible for the attacks, saying they already receive too much publicity. But prosecutor Jeffrey Wennar of the Montgomery state's attorney's office said MS-13 was involved in the incident at Springbrook High School.

"MS-13 is throughout Montgomery County," Wennar said. "It's a violent gang whose members really don't care -- its members are willing to stab someone or beat someone regardless of the consequences."

Another official source, who requested anonymity because the investigation is continuing, said the gang also was involved in the Wheaton stabbings.

"Both cases were gang-related," Manger said. "The preliminary information we have is all of the people involved in these two events were involved in rival Salvadoran gangs."

The first incident, involving five to seven attackers, occurred about 1:15 p.m. Friday at Springbrook. Two teenage students in the summer school program -- identified by police in District Court documents as David Gamero and Juan Quito Jr. -- had an argument with other students during the morning session.

After dismissal at 12:55 p.m., the two met a group of young people, some of whom they knew, and a fight broke out. Gamero was cut in the upper right abdomen, the right side of the chest and the ear. Quito suffered a 2 1/2 -inch stab wound in the lower back.

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