NEW YORK (CBS 2) — Police are hunting down the last suspect in a heinous hate crime in the Bronx amid cries for the suspect to surrender to police.
Dozens gathered in the West Village Saturday night to “take back the night” against criminals targeting the gay community. Supporters are vowing to fight back, reports CBS 2′s Wendy Gillette.
On Saturday, the mayor had choice words of warning for those who would commit similar crimes.
“Let me be clear to anyone who would contemplate targeting a fellow New Yorker like this. The greatest police department in the world will find you swiftly, you will be prosecuted to the full extend under the law, and you will go to jail for a very long time,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
Police paraded six of the seven suspects arrested in front of a line of media early Saturday morning. Just hours later, an eighth man – 23-year-old Elmer Confresi – turned himself in to officers.
Police are still searching for the ninth suspect, identified as 22-year-old Rudy Vargas Perez.
“We were under the belief that he was going to turn himself in yesterday with an attorney, [but] he did not show up,” Bloomberg said.
The nine men, all aged 16 to 23 years old, called themselves the “Latin King Goonies.”
Police say that last weekend, the gang brought three men into a house on Osbourne Place, where they savagely sodomized and beat two of the victims, ages 17 and 30, for having a gay relationship.
“You are attacking the right to be an American. You are attacking the right of free speech and expression,” Governor David Paterson said.
Members of community groups, led by City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, marched through the Morris Heights section of the Bronx, handing out leaflets to spread awareness of the brutal anti-gay attacks – and to urge residents to help find the last at-large suspect.
“You don’t attack someone because of who they are, unless you are an ignorant coward,” Quinn said.
The leaflets are printed in English and Spanish. They describe the heinous attack, and urge anyone with information to make a confidential call to police.
“We want to raise awareness and really bring to community together to say we’re not going to tolerate this anymore,” Sharon Stapel, of the NYC Anti-Violence Project, said.
Quinn and others took the leaflets to a Laundromat around the corner from where the attack occurred.
The owner said the area needs an added police presence.
“It’s terrible. There’s a lot of gangs and stuff like that around here, and the police really need to come by and clean it up,” Laundromat owner Joe Ferrante said.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan addressed the violence on Saturday during a visit to Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx.
“Human life is sacred, and whenever, anywhere, anyhow, anyway the dignity of the human person is trampled upon, beaten up, it’s awful,” Archbishop Dolan said. “It causes us all to shudder and say, ‘this is not the way things are meant to be.’”
The archbishop added that nothing can justify that kind of mindless, vicious violence.
Mayor Bloomberg said all of the suspects will be charged with hate crimes.