Baltimore County Police continue to investigate two stabbing incidents that took place early Sunday morning outside the Towson Nights Hookah Lounge Cafe in downtown Towson. Meanwhile, a new law designed to reduce problems related to hookah lounges across the county took effect yesterday.
The law, introduced at the request of County Executive Kevin Kamenetz with the support of Police Chief Jim Johnson, requires hookah lounges to close at midnight. County Executive Kamenetz and Chief Johnson believe the earlier closing time -- some lounges have remained open as late as 4 a.m. -- will reduce the number of nuisance and criminal complaints associated with hookah establishments.
"The unfortunate incident in Towson outside of a hookah lounge this weekend once again shows why the recent legislation limiting hours at hookah and vapor lounges that I introduced and that was passed by the County Council is so important," Kamenetz said. "Beginning yesterday, these places of business must close no later than midnight. Should problematic behavior continue after the new law is implemented, I am fully prepared to go back to the Council and request that it reduce the hours even further.
"I'm not going to tolerate this behavior in downtown Towson or anywhere else."
May 18 Stabbings
Police responded to two separate stabbing incidents near the Towson Nights hookah lounge early Sunday morning. The more serious of the two is a double stabbing that occurred just after 3:30 a.m., in which two young men -- both 22 years old -- were confronted by an unknown suspect or suspects who instigated a verbal argument that escalated to a stabbing. The victims -- who are not being identified at this time because the suspects remain at large -- had just left the hookah lounge when they were confronted by the suspects. It is unclear whether the suspects had been in the lounge.
Both victims were transported to local hospitals. One of the victims remains hospitalized with serious injuries; the other suffered non life-threatening injuries.
There is no description of the suspects at this time. An investigation by the Violent Crimes Unit is ongoing.
Earlier Sunday morning, police responded at about 2 a.m. to a fight at Burke Avenue and York Road, where they were told that a friend of one of the people involved in the fight had been stabbed earlier outside the Towson Nights hookah lounge. Investigation showed that the victim self-transported to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. No arrests have been made in this stabbing, and there is no suspect description at this time. The investigation by detectives at the Towson precinct is ongoing.
Police have investigated whether the two stabbing incidents might be related but have concluded that they are not connected.
Under the new law, hookah lounges in existence yesterday -- the day the bill took effect -- have 45 days to comply with the new regulation. Any new lounges will be subject immediately to the earlier closing time.
Zoning violations are misdemeanors enforced by Code Enforcement as well as by police.