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Fires, attacks plague 'hobo camp'

October 09, 2000

Fires, attacks plague 'hobo camp'



By MARLO BARNHART / Staff Writer
photos: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer


William Calvin YoungJohn Michael KingAn attempt to set a man on fire and other incidents at a "hobo camp" on the former roundhouse property have prompted a planned meeting this week between CSX officials and Hagerstown City Police.

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"We need to cooperate with each other to get this cleared up," said Capt. Charlie Summers of the Hagerstown City Police.

Summers described a weekend of disturbances and fires in the tent city occupied by transients off Burhans Boulevard.

In the most serious incident, two men tried to set another man on fire Sunday, police said.

John Michael King, 42, and William Calvin Young, 38, were charged with attempted second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and misdemeanor theft, according to Lt. Gary Spielman of the Hagerstown City Police.

According to police, King gave his address as 149 N. Potomac St., the Hagerstown YMCA; Young gave his address as 125 N. Prospect St., the Hagerstown Union Rescue Mission.

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Both men appeared Monday morning before a bond commissioner who set bond at $100,000 each, according to Washington County District Court records.

A third man, Ronald Wayne Fraley Jr., 39, no fixed address, was charged with two counts of theft in connection with the incident, police said.

He was being held on $10,000 bond.

In Sunday's attack, two men held another man down, poured kerosene on him and attempted to set him on fire, according to Hagerstown Fire Marshal John Hersh. The victim was identified as Mark Stotler, no fixed address.

Another man, identified as Timothy Cassell, no fixed address, was splashed with kerosene, police said.

Neither man required medical treatment, police said.

The dispute stemmed from a fight over camping equipment.

Three days earlier, on Oct. 5, a tent in the hobo camp was set on fire, drawing trucks from Hagerstown Fire Department, Hersh said.

"That day, the CSX police came in and gave the hobos until Monday to get off the CSX property," Hersh said.

Sunday's incident occurred shortly after several more tents were set on fire, Hersh said.

Transients who used to seek shelter in the old CSX roundhouse building later established a tent camp after the roundhouse was torn down.

Many of those tents were set up to the rear of the vacant R.D. McKee building.

Summers said the problem with transients crops up from time to time. There were recently as many as 11 tents erected in the area where people were living, sleeping and cooking.

"We're not seeing much drug use there," Summers said.

Although gates bar access to the site in several places, a walk down the tracks can lead into the site in many difference places, Summers said.

CSX plans to send a representative from Pittsburgh to Hagerstown this week to work out a solution.

"It's their property," Summers said. "But sometimes, it's our problem."

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