MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An 18-year-old has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing another teen on Long Island.
Tyler Flach, of Lido Beach, is accused of stabbing 16-year-old Khaseen Morris in the chest during a brawl outside a strip mall in Oceanside on Monday afternoon. A 17-year-old was also hurt in the fight.
Flach turned himself in Wednesday and was arraigned Thursday.
Hundreds of candles have been placed at the scene of the attack, but along with the mourning there has been anger. Many of the victim’s relatives were in court when Flach pleaded not guilty. He was then placed in protected custody after his lawyer suggested Morris had gang ties, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported.
Police said Flash was part of a larger group that attacked Morris for spending time with another teen’s ex-girlfriend.
“Tyler is an associate of the ex-boyfriend of this particular girl in question. He’s in his particular crew or group that he hangs out with and he came there as a partner with his friend to have this fight,” Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick told reporters Thursday. “He took it to the next level.”
Web Extra: Nassau County PD, DA Update On Deadly Oceanside Stabbing
Flach, a college freshman and aspiring rapper, has two priors. He was arrested in May for assault during a road rage incident in Albany and then again in September in Nassau County for drug possession.
Flach is credited online with a polished rap video and lists among his likes hardcore fights.
However, his attorney, Edward Sapone, said the teen strongly maintains his innocence and told the judge Morris’ group in the fight appears to have Bloods gang ties.
“There is certainly evidence on social media that tends to suggest that that group is involved with street gang violence,” Sappone said. “There are gang signs. There is hair that is died blood orange or red.”
That comment sent dozens of Morris’ tearful family members, each wearing tie-dyes to represent a victim they say was upbeat and kind, out of court outraged and silent, Gusoff reported.
They watched Khaseen lay dying in Snapchat video shot by one of the 50 onlookers. Flach is believed to be the shirtless teen seen on the video.
Police said they’ve identified seven other participants and are imploring anyone with more video or information to contact them.
“The time to come forward is now, not ’til after the fact that you’ve been arrested,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said.
“This is a horrific tragedy for Khaseen’s family, for the Oceanside community. Again, we cant sit idly by as 16-year-olds expire and bleed out on our streets here in Nassau County, so please give us the information so we can continue the investigation and insure that justice is done,” Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas added.
Some teens have voiced fear of coming forward and on Thursday Commissioner Ryder made it crystal clear that security is in place at all the involved schools and that police will arrest anyone making a threat.
Morris’ sister told CBS2 earlier in the week he was new to Oceanside and excited to start his senior year, where he quickly made friends.
“He didn’t deserve to go out like this,” Keyanna Morris said. “Everyone loved him, and he loved everyone… He was amazing.”
Flach is looking at 25 years to life in prison if convicted.