An eleventh-grade student at Suitland High School was critically wounded by a blast from a sawed-off shotgun yesterday during a lunch-hour argument with a fellow student near the school's stadium.
Bruce Everett Void, 18, of Hillside was shot in the left hand and lower abdomen while students milled around the school grounds. Void was listed in stable condition at Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base.
Maurice Johnson, also 18, a twelfth grader at Suitland High, was charged with assault with intent to murder. Johnson, a Suitland resident, was being held late yesterday at the Seat Pleasant police station.
Yesterday's shooting was the latest chapter in a long history of violence at Suitland High. In 1975, three youths fatally shot and robbed a 17-year-old student in a dispute over drugs. Last March, three men, who were not students, entered the building with a gun but were forced out of the school without incident.
"This incident was unfortunate," said Walter Battle, the school principal. "We have been trying to provide a positive climate in the building. In the last year, it has begun to pay off."
Police gave the following account of yesterday's shooting at the school.
Void and another student had an argument in the morning. Hours later, when the two met in a grassy area near the stadium, they continued the quarrel and a fistfight began.
After the fight broke up, Void's challenger left the school grounds, and returned a short time later carrying a blue canvas bag. He then challenged Void to a fight and pulled out a sawed-off shotgun from the bag.
Void threw up his hands as if to surrender, but the gunman shot him once and fled.
Johnson, who came to Suitland High this year after attending McKinley Senior High School in the District of Columbia, was arrested by police on the school grounds.
Edward Void, father of the wounded youth, said he had tried unsuccessfully to have his son transferred from Suitland "because of the kind of people at that school."
"I don't know what I'm going to do," said Edward Void, as he waited in the hospital emergency room. "We worried about him there. He felt people would all be picking on him."
School officials, who have been trying to reverse Suitland High's reputation for trouble, were concerned that yesterday's shooting would stymie their efforts.
"Suitland has been a badmouthed school," said a school official. "It's sad that it had to happen here because they've (Suitland officials) really turned that place around."