Attack has city leaders considering curfew law

The attack on an 83-year-old Salisbury man by a group of juveniles has some city leaders wanting to institute a curfew.

Mayor Jim Ireton said his administration was asked by two men attending a community policing meeting to review Baltimore curfew legislation, and see if it applies locally. The matter hasn’t yet gone before the city council, but Councilwoman Shanie Shields is already strongly in favor.

“You have to have a curfew because apparently the parents are not controlling their children. They are letting them out that young. You have got to know where your children are. They need to be controlled,” she said.

Police Chief Barbara Duncan said a curfew for Salisbury, with times most likely based on age, is being discussed and an announcement will be made early next year.

The boys accused of the assault were arrested Dec. 6. Three of them are 14, two are 15 and one is 16, police said.

The assault and robbery occurred at 3:30 p.m., at Camden and Monticello avenues, as the man walked down Camden Avenue near Monticello.

The boys, riding bicycles, some later determined stolen, hit him in the back of the head, knocking him down, and demanded money. He was kicked and punched and struck  with his umbrella so hard that it broke in half.

The boys fled, but were later found and charged.

Six of the juveniles are being held by the Department of Juvenile Justice. The 16-year-old was released by the court commissioner.

A neighbor and friend of the victim said he’s a former U.S. Marine, who takes several walks every day and is now back to his routine, but carries a protective spray.

“What is a group children doing, running around terrorizing people?” Ireton said.

Shields called it “awful.”

“That could have been anybody’s grandfather. I don’t know why they would do that, what was in their mind. It goes to prove what I say all the time. We need more after-school programs and we need more parenting skills programs,” she said.

Shields says it costs $88,000  to keep a juvenile in detention for one year, taxpayers’ money that could be saved with better training and household rules.

“Without discipline, this is what you’re getting. Cussing their teachers out, cussing their parents out. They should be accountable for what they did to that man … we almost have to be a police state … the children are controlling the grown people instead of the grown people controlling the children,” she said.

Ireton said he hopes the boys “will have to face their peers.”

“We got all seven now. The idea of them coming there and doing that says they must assume there are not going to be repercussions, but there will be,” Ireton said.

City Council President Jake Day had strong words for the attackers.

“I feel no remorse for these kids. I feel none whatsoever. We’ve got to go after them hard. This is a violent act,” Day said.

“It’s disgusting that anyone, whether they are a child, a teenager, an adult, would attack a defenseless old man in his neighborhood. I’m just disgusted,” Day said.

“It also requires a call to action. You look at the way these kids have been raised and their home life and their school life and what they’re getting away with. It is all leading up to this kind of behavior. As a community, we’ve got to do a better job of watching our children – parents, teachers, officials – and we’ve got to look after each other’s kids,” Day said.

He said some Salisbury residents believe the group of juveniles is also responsible for other problems in neighborhoods last summer.

“People are concerned. There’s no doubt about it.  And we’ve got to do something about it,” he said.

Wicomico County State’s Attorney Matthew Maciarello posted a statement on Facebook referring to an airsoft replica handgun police found in one boy’s backpack.

“There is no way that a police officer can distinguish between this gun and a real one if it is drawn in a confrontation,” Maciarello wrote.

“It has the hole for a BB recessed so there is no way to tell that this airsoft is not the real thing without a close and careful visual inspection. This, of course, is not law enforcement’s first encounter with these guns. We have seen them used in robberies and attempted robberies and we have had several juveniles sentenced as adults if the law, facts, and juvenile’s record call for such measures.

“We have had quite a few instances where the orange pieces provided by the manufacturer are either colored black by the juvenile or they are broken off. (I have personally prosecuted such cases). The teens carrying these replicas have no clue the danger they are to themselves and to others.”

Calling the attack “particularly egregious,” Maciarello said police are investigating and the state’s attorney’s office is “coordinating prosecution efforts” with police.

Ireton said incidents such as the attack, on both a local and national level “are crowding out work we should be doing “

“Local things are happening, national issues, and that’s unfortunate. I’m worried we’re missing out on vital momentum to make systemic change,” the mayor said.


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