No new arrests in Phila. school attack

No additional arrests had been made in the attack Friday on 10 students at Julia Howe Elementary School in Fern Rock, Philadelphia police said Saturday.

At 12:50 p.m. Friday, seven or eight teenagers, at least one wielding a baseball bat, attacked fourth and fifth grader on the school’s playground during recess. Three teenagers from Martin Luther King High School were arrested Friday and charged with assault. Police did not release their names because they are juveniles.

“I want to stress there were no serious injuries,” said Lt. Frank Vanore, police spokesman. “About 11 students turned up at Northwest Detectives claiming to have been hit, in some way, with the bat.”

Police were investigating the motive. “As I understood, the three teens from Martin Luther King went to Howe to settle an argument,” Vanore said. “The subject of that argument is unknown to me still.”

Philadelphia School District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Saturday: “The only thing we knew, they showed up. We don’t know exactly why.”

“We are going to be suspending recess at the school until further notice because we are conducting an investigation,” Gallard said. “We want to make sure there’s no ongoing issue of putting students at risk.”

About 50 students, all fourth and fifth graders, and two aides were outside.

“We got very lucky,” Gallard said. “It was described to us as attackers with bats. I don’t know if it was one bat or several. We are actively helping the police find who the perpetrators were. In a situation like this, we will provide, through the Philadelphia police, photos for the victims to identify.”

A school nurse at Howe looked at each student before releasing the child to parents.

“The nurse did not call for any kids to be transported to a hospital,” Gallard said. “What she did recommend was, if your child said he was hit in the head, take him to your physician or to a hospital to be checked out further.”

Howe, at 5800 N. 13th St., has an enrollment of about 300 children. Martin Luther King High School, roughly two miles away at 6100 Stenton Ave., has an enrollment of about 1,200 students.

School District data on serious incidents show King had more than 50 assaults and about 25 weapons offenses during the 2005-07 school years, decreasing to just under 30 assaults and 10 weapons offenses in 2008-09.

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