Teen attacks unnerving downtown Baltimore visitors

BALTIMORE (WMAR) - Baltimore resident Giah Velleggia says she is the latest victim of a disturbing trend: attacks by groups of young people.

A verbal argument turned violent Thursday afternoon, according to Velleggia, after the group got off a bus on Bel Air Road near Overlea Avenue.

"Some girl grabbed me by my hair, threw me to the ground and started beating the crap out of me," she said.

The attacks have some wondering if fear of violence will keep people away from downtown hot spots, like the Inner Harbor.

"The fewer people who are out and about, the worse the problem is going to get," says bicyclist Lacey Etzkorn.

She says a teenager recently tried to push her off her bike near the Inner Harbor.

"It seems funny, like the kids are just making fun of the person but then all of the sudden, it turns violent or something," says Etzkorn.

Harbor visitors say they are noticing an increased police presence, but say more needs to be done to help find kids better ways to spent their time.

"One of the things we constantly forget - they're kids," says resident Michael Duncan. "Kids need to be raised. Kids need a role model. Kids need guidance."

Thursday, Mayor Catherine Pugh announced that agency heads will meet every morning at 8 am to discuss crime and make decisions. Pugh is also asking the private sector to help fund a $10 million expansion of the Safe Streets Program.

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