NEW YORK (CBS 2) – Eight of the nine suspects in the brutal Bronx gang assault were arraigned on Sunday, making their first court appearance. They’re facing a variety of charges, including hate crimes.
Police continue to wait for the last suspect, who remains on the loose, reports CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis.
Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22, is expected to turn himself in, though police continue to actively search for him.
Earlier Sunday at Bronx Criminal Court, family members of several of the accused huddled with an attorney.
No cameras were allowed inside the courtroom for the proceedings, but relatives cried as their sons and brothers stood before a judge, facing charges in a horrible anti-gay torturing of three men.
Seven of the suspects were paraded before a line of media members early Saturday.
Suspect Nelson Falu’s family said there was no way he took part in the attack, which happened inside an empty apartment building.
“I know my son. He’s not like that,” his mother, Caroline Falu, said.
“I know he didn’t do nothing because he was home with us all day,” his sister, Gabrielle Falu, said. “He was spending time with his girlfriend.”
I court, the suspects showed little emotion as the judge heard the disturbing details of the case. The young men, ages 17 to 23 years old, are accused of torturing and beating two teenage boys and a 30-year-old man.
The district attorney said the suspects sodomized two of the men with a plunger, chained one to a chair, and used a cigarette lighter to inflict burns.
The suspects allegedly used anti-gay slurs and told the 30-year-old, “we know you have sex with boys.”
Most of the suspects have prior arrest records, and they’re reportedly part of a gang called the “Latin King Goonies.”
However, one defense attorney said there was no gang – that the young men were all just friends who were hanging out and drinking.
“These accusations are serious. I take them seriously. But I’m an attorney, I have a job to do, and the system has to work for everybody – even those charged with the most serious crimes – or we have no system.”
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force, along with the Bronx Robbery Squad, the Gang Squad and Special Victims detectives, are all following Mayor Bloomberg’s zero tolerance stance against bias crimes.
All of those eight suspects remain in jail. Bail was set for two of them at $50,000, while the others are being held without bail. They did not enter pleas, and will be back in court Thursday.