NEW YORK (CBS 2/ 1010WINS/ AP) – Police have arrested seven individuals ranging in age from 16 to 23 for their roles in alleged anti-gay attacks Sunday.
CBS 2 took exclusive pictures of six of the seven suspects, who were trying to hide their faces with hoods on their heads, chained to each other. They are accused of anti-gay bias attacks that have shocked a University Heights neighborhood.
“I don’t understand how people can do that to another human being whether he’s gay, whatever he is,” resident Geovany Rodriguez told CBS 2’s John Metaxas.
The alleged bloody beatings happened on Osborne Place early Sunday. Police said members of a gang known as the “Latin King Goonies” lured a 17-year-old into an unoccupied ground floor apartment.
LISTEN: 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports
“He was thrown into a wall, made to strip naked, hit in the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter, and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger,” NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
Police said the gang questioned the teen about his contact with a 30-year-old man, and then let him go with a warning not to call police.
Two other brutal attacks would follow — first on another 17-year-old, and then the 30-year-old himself, who was allegedly lured to the scene.
“He was forced to strip to his underwear and then tied to a chair opposite from the teenager. The teenager, at the direction of his assailants, hit the older male several times in the face and burned him with a cigarette. The assailants also hit the man with their fists and a chain, and sodomized him with a small baseball bat,” Kelly said.
Kelly said after dumping him unconscious the assailants went on to their next victim — the man’s brother who lived nearby.
“Five assailants let themselves into his apartment through the front door, with keys taken from his brother. They pulled a blanket over the older brother’s head, beat him, and demanded money,” Kelly said.
The victims were eventually freed, hospitalized and treated.
The assailants scrubbed the scene top-to-bottom with bleach, even repainting the walls to make it look new, police said.
“They could clean, but they couldn’t hide,” Kelly said.
Investigators said they still found alcohol cans and hair at the scene. And an onlooker slipped a phone number to detectives, leading them to the primary suspect. The victims, initially reluctant, also started to divulge more details about the assaults, Kelly said. The Hate Crimes Task Force took over the investigation, along with Bronx robbery and gang division and special victims squad and arrested the seven men.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, the city’s highest-ranking openly gay official, called the attacks “vile” and “horrifying.”
“These attacks are appalling and are even more despicable because the victims were clearly targeted in acts of hate simply because they are gay,” Quinn said. “The cowardly few who committed these crimes do not represent New Yorkers and our community will not be cowed by such violence.”
A weekend rally on anti-gay bias was planned following other crimes against gays.
On Sunday, a patron at the Stonewall Inn, a symbol of the gay rights movement since protests over a 1969 police raid there, was beaten in an anti-gay bias attack, according to prosecutors. Two suspects in the case were charged. Their attorneys say they’re not guilty.
That attack followed the Sept. 22 death of a New Jersey college student, who jumped off the George Washington Bridge after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly streamed online. The student’s roommate and another freshman have been charged with invasion of privacy. Authorities are considering bias-crime charges.
(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)