A Johns Hopkins University student was charged yesterday in the early morning firebombing of an occupied campus shanty that injured a student, Baltimore police reported.
Russell H. Abrams, 20, a university junior, faces three counts of attempted murder and one count of arson, police said, in the firebombing of the structure, which is part of a campus protest against South Africa.
Four men seen fleeing with Abrams after the attack were being sought by police.
Abrams was refused bail and held yesterday at the Northern District Court of Maryland, where he is to appear at a bail review tomorrow morning, said District Court Commissioner Steve Schenker.
Schenker said Abrams most likely would be transferred to the Baltimore City Jail today to await the bail review.
Kevin Archer, a university graduate student, said in a telephone interview that he received first- and second-degree burns on 10 percent of his body when the shanty he and two other graduate students were occupying was set afire at 2:45 a.m. He was treated at a local hospital for burns on an arm and his lower back and released.
Police said they believe that the fire was started with gasoline.
The firebombing was the most recent incident in a series of demonstrations at colleges nationwide. Many of the protests have pitted right-wing students against those who build the shantytowns in an effort to demonstrate the living conditions of blacks under South Africa's system of racial segregation known as apartheid and to protest their college's financial holdings there. Dartmouth College in particular has been the scene of several arrests of students on both sides of the issue.
Archer said the attack took the students in the shanty by surprise. "We were sitting up having a loud debate over a number of political issues," he said. "If we had been in sleeping bags at that hour, it would have been a lot worse. It's scary to think what might have happened."
Patrick Bond, who was in the 8-by-10-foot plywood shanty at the time, said he glanced toward a window and "I saw a splash of liquid thrown against the back wall. Instantly, a huge wall of flames engulfed the shanty."
Bond, 24, said he and the third student in the shanty, Jane Gray, 22, escaped without injury because they were near the door. The three are members of the university's Coalition for a Free South Africa, whose 100 members take turns sleeping in the shanties.
Two people in another shanty, one of four on campus near the university's administration building, rushed out and saw five young men fleeing from the burning structure.
Glenn Barnett, 22, said he and another coalition member who was inside the other shanty chased four of them while Bond chased the fifth. Eventually, Barnett said, one of the fleeing men slipped and was held until police arrived.
Bond said coalition members have been informed by the university that other campus groups have complained about the shantytown and sought its removal.