Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Police Commissioner Calls Queens Slaying a Hate Crime by Joseph Goldstein -

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Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said Tuesday that the fatal beating of an 18-year-old man in Queens early Saturday “falls into the category of a hate crime.”
The victim, Anthony Collao, was at a party at a house in Woodhaven when five gate-crashers, none older than 17, pushed their way inside, Mr. Kelly said. Once indoors, they began “making homophobic remarks” and writing messages on the wall in red markers, said Mr. Kelly, who was asked about the case after a City Council hearing.
As Mr. Collao, who the police said was at the party with a girlfriend, left about 1 a.m., he encountered the same group outside the house, on 90th Street. One of the teenagers had a metal bat and another had a cane, according to a criminal complaint.
With a shout of “this is my hood,” the teenagers chased Mr. Collao down 90th Street and set upon him in a storm of punches, kicks and blows from “an object that appeared to be a stick,” according to the complaint.
Mr. Collao was taken to Jamaica Hospital and died late Monday after he was taken off life support, Mr. Kelly said. The attack and the death were reported by The Daily News on Tuesday.
When the police arrested one of those suspected in the attack, Christopher Lozada, he had an Atlanta Braves cap that belonged to Mr. Collao, according to the complaint. The police also discovered blood on Mr. Lozada’s clothing and on the sneakers of a second person arrested in the case, according to the complaint, which said that a metal pipe with blood on it was recovered from the crime scene.
Mr. Lozada and three other suspects were arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Monday on charges of manslaughter, gang assault and weapons possession. The police are still searching for a fifth suspect, whose name they did not release. The criminal complaint does not make any mention of antigay slurs, or offer any suggestion as to what motivated the attack. Mr. Kelly said that investigators with an expertise in hate crimes were looking into the case.
David Franzese, a lawyer for one of the defendants, Luis Tabales, 16, said that his client had nothing to do with the assault and “doesn’t know the other individuals he was arrested with.”
Mr. Franzese said the party was at an abandoned home that had become a hangout for teenagers.