17 Pr. George's students charged with assault after massive fight at high school

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By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 15, 2009; 5:34 PM

Seventeen students at Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Prince George's County were arrested and charged with assault Tuesday after a massive fight in a school hallway, police said.

The chaos erupted about 9:30 a.m., when a sheriff's deputy was called to the second floor for a reported fight, police said. That deputy saw as many as 100 students fighting or watching the fracas, though school staff members moved quickly to break it up, police said.

It is unclear what sparked the incident, though investigators think it stemmed from a dispute between rival neighborhood crews known as Brightseat Road and Palmer Park, authorities said. Police said a student who was expelled from the school last year but allowed to return this year is believed to have been the primary instigator.

No one was seriously injured, although one student's lip was split with a screwdriver, police said. His attacker, a 16-year-old boy, was charged as an adult with first-degree assault, police said. The other 16 students, 15 males and 1 female, were charged with second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and disruption of school activities.

Police did not identify any of those charged.

School officials disputed the police account, saying the incident began when an "adult male outsider" who transferred from Flowers last year reentered the school using his old ID.

The man, who had posted a threat a day earlier on his Facebook page directed at a rival crew, started the fight and then left, school officials said.

"What happened today is not symbolic or representative of what is going on at this school," Principal Helena Nobles-Jones said in the statement. "The students of Flowers have made AYP(Adequate Yearly Progress) consistently and increasing student achievement remains our first priority."

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