Six New York City teens have been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in the brutal beating and stomping of an 18-year-old perceived to be gay. The 21-charge indictment includes manslaughter, assault and robbery as hate crimes, reports YourNabe.
Outside of a March 13 Woodhaven house party, the six boys allegedly used a pipe, cane and stick to bludgeon Anthony Collao so severely he died days later in a hospital. The suspects then allegedly stole the shoes off of Collao, and one was seen wearing the Bethpage teen’s Atlanta Braves baseball cap immediately following the incident, the DA said. Another bragged about it on Facebook, according to city officials.
The accused are: Nolis Ogando, 18; Alex Velez, Christopher Lozada and Calvin Pietri, all 17; Luis Tabales and Jonathan Echevarria, 16. If convicted, the teenagers face a minimum of 20 years to life in prison.
"Hate crimes — whether they be motivated by sexual orientation, gender, religion or ethnicity — will not be tolerated in Queens County, which is proudly known as one of the most diverse areas in the country," [Queens District Attorney Richard] Brown said in a statement. "When they do, regrettably, occur, they will be condemned in the strongest possible terms and those responsible will be brought to justice to answer for their actions."
Collao was a recent high school graduate who attended the party held in an abandoned building and advertised on Facebook. Collao was not gay but the two young men who hosted the party were. Gang members tried to crash the party, began a melee and yelled anti-gay slurs. Collao was chased from the home and brutally attacked.
The Collao case has eerie similarities to the December 2008 fatal beating of Jose Sucuzhañay in Brooklyn. The Ecuadorean immigrant was mistakenly believed to be gay and beaten to a pulp with an aluminum baseball bat. Sucuzhanay's brother Diego, who was injured in that attack, spoke at the Collao vigil. Collao's family are also Ecuadorean immigrants.
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