Remark May Have Incited Stabbings at School

By Fredrick Kunkle and Fulvio Cativo
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, August 11, 2005

A remark about a girl appears to have triggered an argument between rival gangs that later escalated into violence at Springbrook High School last week, a senior law enforcement official said yesterday.

The two gangs -- identified by the law enforcement official as Mara Locos and Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13 -- are usually eager for any pretext to clash, and the remark started an argument Friday between the gangs during the summer school session at the Colesville area school, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the case remains open.

After school let out, the members of Mara Locos and MS-13 continued the argument, and a fight broke out near a parking lot, the official said. Two teenage boys were stabbed.

Four hours later, members of the two gangs met by chance three miles away at Westfield Shoppingtown Wheaton, and the MS-13 members, having heard about the earlier fight, attacked their rivals, the official said. That fight left four teenagers with knife wounds.

MS-13 members appeared to be the aggressors in both fights, police say. All six victims are expected to live.

Another suspect in the Springbrook stabbing was arrested yesterday, bringing to 12 the number of young men and teenagers charged in the two incidents. Wilber Garcia-Martinez, 19, of the 8200 block of 14th Avenue in Hyattsville has been charged with conspiracy.

Two defendants, Santos M. Garcia, 28, charged in the Springbrook attack, and Alexis Rodriquez-Marquez, 15, charged as an adult in the Wheaton incident, were ordered held without bond yesterday by Judge Thomas L. Craven.

Charging documents show that Garcia is a known member of MS-13, bearing a tattoo of "MS" on a hand and a large "MS 13" on his back. Prosecutor Jeffrey T. Wennar said members of MS-13 contacted Garcia to help with the stabbing at Springbrook.

According to the charging documents, a witness identified him from a photo array and told police that he saw Garcia advance aggressively toward victim David Gamero.

Garcia's attorney, Charles B. Lipscomb, said Garcia has held a steady job as a tree cutter for about six years and had disassociated himself from MS-13 for several years.

"Even if Mr. Garcia was involved, it was at a minimal level at best," Lipscomb said.

The day's violence has drawn renewed attention to the street gang problem in Montgomery County.

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