- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 15, 2009

BALTIMORE — A Johns Hopkins University student armed with a samurai sword killed a suspected burglar in a garage behind his off-campus home early Tuesday, hours after someone broke in and stole electronics.

Some shocked neighbors said they heard bloodcurdling screams in an area just blocks from the university. Police held the student, a junior chemistry major who turns 21 on Sunday, for several hours, but no charges were filed by early afternoon, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi SAID.

Around 1:20 a.m., the student heard noises behind the home and noticed that a door to the garage was open, Mr. Guglielmi said. The student grabbed the sword and confronted the intruder, who was crouching beneath a counter.

The student asked the suspect what he was doing and threatened to call police.

“When he said that, the suspect lunged at him, kind of forced the kid against the wall, and he struck him with the sword,” Mr. Guglielmi said.

The intruder’s left hand was nearly severed — Mr. Guglielmi described it as “hanging on by a thread” — and the man suffered a severe cut to the upper body. The 49-year-old suspect, whom police described as a habitual offender, died at the scene.

On Monday, two laptops and a Sony PlayStation were stolen from the student’s home, though police were not sure whether the slain suspect was responsible, Mr. Guglielmi said.

There was a pool of blood Tuesday morning in the brick courtyard between the back porch of the home and the garage. The courtyard was strewn with debris, including what looked like broken glass.

Mr. Guglielmi did not know why the student kept a sword. He said he may have had some martial arts training but was not an expert.

Police have not yet released the suspect’s name because they were having trouble locating his relatives. Mr. Guglielmi said the suspect had 29 prior arrests, mostly for burglary and breaking and entering, and had been released Saturday from a Baltimore County jail after serving about a year for auto theft.

Several nearby residents said the community has experienced a rash of petty crimes in recent months, including home, garage and vehicle break-ins. Many homes have bars on windows and stickers advertising alarm systems.

Michael Hughes, 43, said he was getting ready for bed when he heard the screams.

“There was fear in the voice. I could tell someone was scared,” Mr. Hughes said.

Mr. Hughes called 911, and several police cars arrived while he was on the phone. Campus security officers and an off-duty city officer who were in the area responding to a suspicious-person report also heard the screams.

The diverse neighborhood includes a mix of students, professors and families, said Mr. Hughes, who lives with his wife and young children and works for Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, which is on another campus across town.

“There seems to be a noticeable increase in crime in the neighborhood,” Mr. Hughes said. “I am concerned for my family’s safety.”

Kenny Eaton, 20, a junior political science major at Hopkins who lives nearby, said there was some tension between students and lower-income residents of nearby communities. The private Johns Hopkins is known for its health and science research and has about 4,600 undergraduates on its main campus.

“You take kids who are paying $50,000 a year (in tuition) and then put them out in a very dangerous city environment, it’s almost like a clash of civilizations,” he said.

Three young men, including one in a Hopkins T-shirt, were sitting on the front porch of the home Tuesday morning. A police officer was standing in the doorway, and a single police car was parked nearby. The men refused to talk to an Associated Press reporter.

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