Maryland woman, child burned in chemical attack

By Matt Zapotosky
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A woman and her 3-year-old daughter visiting a relative in Oxon Hill were splashed with a chemical Monday that left them with burns so severe they had to be hospitalized overnight, police and relatives said.

Police called the attack a "domestic-related assault" and said they were searching for a female suspect who apparently threw the chemical. A man and a woman taken into custody after the incident were released after being interviewed, said Officer Evan Baxter, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Police Department. The woman and girl remained hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition, police said.

Citing the woman's mother and stepfather, WJLA (Channel 7) identified the victims as Katrina Watts and daughter Taniya Steward. Other relatives, who declined to be identified except as a grandmother and aunt, confirmed their first names to The Washington Post.

The incident occurred in the 1100 block of Kennebec Street about 7 p.m., Baxter said. Neighbors said they heard a woman screaming and banging on the door of an apartment, saying someone whom she did not know had thrown something at her.

"She said her face was burning. Somebody threw something in her face," said Crystal Holloman, 22, who listened to the exchange from inside her apartment. "I overheard her say she didn't know who the person was."

The woman's grandmother, who declined to provide her name to protect her privacy, said her granddaughter had come to visit Monday. She said her granddaughter ran into her apartment and said something had been thrown in her face. The grandmother said that her granddaughter had burns on the side of her face and that her great-granddaughter was also burned.

"I told her [to] go wash her face in some cold water, and then I called the ambulance," the grandmother said. "I think it's terrible, and whoever did it, I think they should be punished to the fullest extent."

Baxter said investigators were waiting for test results to determine precisely what type of chemical was thrown. Another police spokesman said it was some type of burning agent.

Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

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