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Suspect Arrested in S.I. Bias Attack Charged As Adult

Christian Vasquez

Victim Christian Vasquez (Photo/Steve Sandberg)

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NEW YORK (AP/1010 WINS) — A teen initially arrested as a juvenile in a suspected hate crime attack on a Mexican teenager on Staten Island was charged Friday as an adult, prosecutors said.

The attack Saturday was the latest in a string of attacks that police have characterized as hate crimes against Mexicans in the borough. It occurred days after police beefed up their presence in the area.

There have been 11 incidents so far targeting Mexican men on Staten Island since April. The NYPD has added scores of officers, cameras and a command post. Mexican-American officers also have been assigned there to help build trust with the community.

The victim in the latest case, Christian Vasquez, a member of a local anti-bias youth group who was trained to help others combat prejudice, was beaten and robbed by attackers hurling ethnic slurs.

Authorities initially believe the suspect arrested Monday, Derrian Williams, was 15 years old and the case would be prosecuted in Family Court.

But Staten Island District Attorney Daniel Donovan said investigators discovered Williams was 17, and on Friday he was indicted as an adult on with charges of robbery, assault and harassment as a hate crime. His lawyer didn’t return a call seeking comment.

Williams, a native of Liberia, was arraigned on the charges and was held pending $400,000 bail. He was also asked to surrender his passport. He faces up to 25 years in jail on the top charges.

Four other suspects remain at large in the Saturday attack.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)