And somebody did.
At first, Greg and Mike and Tommy had a three-on-two fight in their favor. But Jeff and Paul signaled to Pat and Danny, who were just coming out of the men's room.
Paul is five-eleven; Greg and Tommy are five-six and five-seven. Suddenly, here were two more boys, Pat, who is six-seven, and Danny, who was six-three. Suddenly, the odds had turned.
And then two witnesses who overheard the argument stood up to follow the boys outside and watch the fight. At that point, Mike and Greg and Tommy could have kept walking--could have run--but they didn't. Instead, they walked out the mall doors and waited.
A police spokesman later told the media that "the basketball players brought fists to a knife fight." The accused boys later pleaded in court that they only fought in self-defense. But an eyewitness, who asked not to be identified, told New Times that neither was true.
"It was mutual combat," he said, "and what happened was not self-defense by any means. The police said they brought fists to a knife fight; no, they brought knives to a fistfight."
Jeff Christiano never made it outside. Pat McCarville pushed through the doors and headed straight for Mike Shoemaker, who is more than a foot shorter than he, and he pushed him. When McCarville threw his next punch, he missed and tangled his arms around Mike's neck. The smaller boy, witnesses said, seemed to wrap his arms around Pat's waist.
Suddenly, Pat couldn't lift his arms.
"I felt like I couldn't do anything," he remembers. "I wanted to hit him, but I couldn't."
He didn't feel any pain, but he saw the knife in Mike's hand, a folding knife with a hunting blade and green-brown handle. He lifted up his shirt and blood spurted out to the pavement.
He heard Danny cry out that he'd been stabbed. Danny had picked his fight with Greg Acevedo, and Greg stabbed him in the chest with a double-bladed black dagger. Paul had been fighting with Tommy Lopez, but when he turned to help Danny, Lopez caught Paul in a headlock and Greg drove the knife into his back.
Danny fell into a planter outside the mall; Paul saw Danny's eyes roll back in his head, and then Paul collapsed on top of his brother.
Pat wandered, dazed, until a passerby suggested he lie down. His beeper started vibrating on his belt--his girlfriend trying to page him--but he couldn't reach it, and the stranger who was trying to help him kept asking what he could do for him.
"Turn off my beeper," Pat said.
Pat McCarville is a likable kid, big-boned and handsome, his dark eyebrows knit into a permanent frown. The scar on his right side where Mike Shoemaker's knife cut into him is little more than an inch long. The wound was five inches deep, and doctors told his parents that if it had been a quarter-inch deeper, it would have killed him. But the scar from the surgery that saved his life stretches from his solar plexus almost to his groin, and sections of it still ache. He had not recovered enough by the start of basketball season to make the team.
Paul Richardson made the team, though just weeks ago he quit after a dispute with the coach. His mother says he still feels the physical effects of his wounds, but the emotional scars are more painful.
As a twin, he had never even gone to school by himself, and now he has to learn to be independent.
"Paul's seen Ryan die," says his mother, Connie Richardson. "He's seen his brother Danny die. He has nightmares. I've never seen anyone die. But I've got nightmares of my own."
Both Acevedo and Shoemaker are free on bond awaiting trial. Lopez--although some witnesses claimed he held Paul while Paul was being stabbed--was not even charged.
And although police insist that the stabbing was not at all related to the Ryan Winn shooting, the two still came together again.
In December, Paul Richardson and Pat McCarville went to Metrocenter to do some Christmas shopping. As they walked through the parking lot, Pat says, a car cruised past them, and they realized that one of the two kids inside was Chris Colombi. Pat and Paul kept walking.
Moments later, as they shopped in an athletic-wear store, Chris' companion walked up to Pat.
"You think you're pretty tough since you got shanked," Pat claims the other boy said to him, followed by the same old classic: "Do you want to go outside?"