The three 9-year-old girls and 8-year-old boy wound up spending nearly 12 hours at a juvenile detention center Thursday for their alleged roles in after-school attacks nine days earlier in a park near Morrell Park Elementary School, The Baltimore Sun reported.
Hearing his granddaughter had been handcuffed by police didn't sit well with Michael Vogel.
"There was no need to handcuff children," he said Friday. "Wow, the cops did a big bust in Morrell Park. They locked up four little kids. I mean, good Lord, the parents should have been there."
Sonia Kumar of the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties union also weighed in.
"It's virtually impossible to imagine a scenario where it is appropriate to take 8- and 9-year-olds out of a school in handcuffs," she said.
But city police said the serious nature of the alleged bullying warranted the way the child suspects were treated. One child's head was held under water in a pond and another had his head held to a railroad track and threatened with death if he told anyone, police said.
"We handled the detentions as we would any felony suspect," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said. "I think what they did to the victims speaks for itself. We worked with the school administration to get them out of class. Once we brought them to the office, they were arrested."
Vogel, 60, said his granddaughter's friends were retaliating for being beaten with sticks while playing on the swings, the Sun said. He said a May 1 hearing has been set in juvenile court and the children can return to class when spring break ends April 11.
City school officials issued a statement saying the matter was being reviewed by the district.