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2 Corona friends slain in fight: Cops

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Alexis Fermin, 23, was gunned down and lifelong friend Jose Liz, 22, was knifed to death at 108th Street and 53rd Avenue when an argument stemming from a broken windshield turned deadly, police and friends of the victims said.Yathiel Santana, 19; Mitchell Lavayen, 21; Jimmy Ardienes, 16; and Billy Lavayen, 18, all of the same Corona neighborhood, were charged with gang assault, police said. No one had been arrested in the actual murders as of late Tuesday, according to police. Fermin and Liz were having drinks with friends at a local Latin lounge around 2:30 a.m. Saturday when one of them received a phone call from a friend saying he was in trouble, according to the bartender at the 37th Street lounge called Novo.Moments later a pearl white Escalade pulled up and Fermin, Liz and others jumped in and sped off, said the bartender, who declined to give his name. That Escalade could have been the same one police said they found at 108th Street and 53rd Avenue around 4 a.m., sitting with two flat tires near the slain bodies of Fermin and Liz.Liz died at the scene and Fermin was pronounced dead at Elmhurst Hospital Center, police said.It was unclear who owned the sports utility vehicle or what set off the fight, although friends said Fermin and Liz had arrived at the corner to help another friend who was fighting with a rival group over a broken windshield.A nearby resident, who gave her name as Alisa, said she and her daughter were awakened by the screaming outside. From their second-story apartment window over 108th Street, they saw two bodies, one lying face up near a curb, another face down across the street."There was a lot of blood, it was a very bad picture for me," said Alisa, who did not see the actual shooting or stabbing. Her 16-year-old daughter, she said, was too upset to talk about it.Nearby residents and merchants said gang fighting was a common occurrence in that area.Mike Vervit, an employee at Hot and Cold Heros on 108th Street, said he has called the police hundreds of times after arguments outside his 24-hour deli turned violent. He said the employee who called 911 to report Saturday's slayings was "too shaken" to come in to work again.But friends of the victims said Fermin and Liz, both of Dominican heritage, were never involved with gangs or violence."We're not known to make trouble," said a distraught Rafael Villar. "We all had the same dream -- to make money and live good."Villar, who went to high school with the two victims, said Liz was about to graduate from the New York City College of Technology and had dreams of becoming a graphic artist. Fermin, he said, was a mechanic who "was smart and kept to himself.""Everything we did we did as a family, and now two of my family members are gone," Villar said Saturday, standing next to a puddle of blood in the street. Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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