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7 Arrested, 2 Being Sought In Brutal Attacks On Gay Men

Juvenile DelinquencyMinority GroupsGang Activity

Seven individuals were in police custody Friday in connection with a series of brutal attacks on men they believed were gay, police said.

According to NYPD officials, the suspects ranged in age from 16 to 23 and were taken into custody late Thursday into Friday morning. A manhunt is currently underway for two other suspects that remain at large, police said.

NYPD Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed details about the gruesome attacks at a press conference Friday, that involved the beatings of four men.

The first attack happened Sunday at around 3:30 a.m. when 17-year-old was abducted by members of a street gang who called themselves the "Latin King Goonies." Police believe the victim was an apparent aspiring member of the gang.

The teen was taken to an vacant ground-floor apartment located at 19-10 Osborne Place where he was thrown into a wall, forced to strip naked, hit on the head with a beer can, cut with a box cutter and sodomized with the wooden handle of a plunger, police said.

According to Kelly, during the disturbing attack, the teen was questioned about his relationship with a 30-year-old man - a relationship that wasn't immediately clear. After the beating, the teen was escorted out of the location by his attackers and warned not to call police.

The 17-year-old walked into a nearby hospital at around 5:30 a.m. and was treated for his injuries and released. He told hospital personnel that his injuries were the result of an apparent attack from unknown assailants. It was days later when the teen came clean about the attack after being re-interviewed by detectives. Police said the victim had feared for his and his family's safety.

The second attack happened over 12 hours later, when another 17-year-old was also beaten, robbed and held against his will in the same Osborne Place apartment, police said. Authorities say the teen - who was known to members of the same street gang - was also questioned about his contact with the same 30-year-old male.

An hour later, at about 9:30 p.m., the 30-year-old man was lured to the same apartment, police said. While there, the victim was forced to strip to his underwear and tied to a chair. The 17-year-old, who was still being held by the group, was ordered to hit the older male several times in the face and burn him with a cigarette.

Investigators said the attackers took it a step further when they beat him with their fists and chains, later sodomizing him with a small baseball bat. The 30-year-old man was then forced to consume 10 cans of a malt beverage called "Four Loco" that he had in his possession.

While the victim was being held, suspects broke into his apartment using his own key they had taken from him. Police said the men ambushed the victim's older brother who was in bed sleeping. They pulled a blanket over his head, beat him and demanded money, police said. After refusing, the suspects placed a cell phone to his ear where he heard his younger brother - still being held against his will at the vacant apartment - say "Give them the money," according to police. The victim's brother proceeded to tell his assailants where they could find $1,000 cash in the apartment.

Reports say the men left the apartment with the cash, a 52-inch television and two debit cards. Before leaving, the men tied up the victim using rope and tape, Kelly said. The victim eventually managed to free himself and called 911 from a neighbor's apartment.

Meanwhile, after enduring hours of torture, the 30-year-old man was dumped outside of his Bronx home, police said. The victim was found unconscious at around 4 a.m. Monday on a landing in the building where he and his brother reportedly shared an apartment. Considering the gross amount of alcohol the victim was forced to consume, police say he was initially unable to recall the events of the previous evening. It was later Monday evening when he remembered everything.

The second 17-year-old victim, similar to the first, was reluctant to report the beating to police, fearing his own safety. He eventually came clean to investigators Wednesday.

After gathering accounts from all the victims, police reportedly went to the Osborne Place apartment where the initial beatings took place and found nothing. Officials believe the suspects returned to the scene where they used chemicals like bleach to clean up the entire apartment. One detective reportedly described the scene as "the cleanest crime scene I've ever seen."

An anonymous tip eventually led investigators to one of the principle suspects in the attacks.

"These suspects employed terrible wolf pack odds of nine against one, odds that reveal them as predators whose crimes were cowardly as they were despicable," Commissioner Kelly said at a press conference Friday.

The suspects currently in police custody include Ildefonzo Mendez, 23, David Rivera, 21, Steven Callabro, 17, Denis Peitars, 17, Nelson Falu, 18, Brian Cepeda, 16, Bryan Almonte, 17. According to police those still being sought are Elmer Confosser, 23 and Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22.

Charges against the men include unlawful imprisonment, abduction, assault, robbery, sodomy and menacing - all as hate crimes, police said. Anyone with information about the case is urged to call police. All calls will remain confidential.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun