Fatal beating in Woodhaven may be anti-gay case

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A Long Island teenager was brutally stomped outside a party in Woodhaven Saturday night and later died in an apparent hate crime that brought strong condemnation from Queens officials.

The four attackers beat Anthony Collao, 18, of Long Island, so badly that he died at Jamaica Hospital two days after the attack, according to a criminal complaint from the Queens district attorney’s office, and police confirmed that the Hate Crimes Task Force was investigating the incident.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) reacted to reports that the attackers allegedly shouted anti-gay slurs before assaulting Collao.

“The tragic attack in Woodhaven, which has resulted in the death of a young man, is another reminder that homophobia is a real and present danger in our society,” said Van Bramer, who is openly gay. “Verbally and physically attacking people based on their sexual orientation or their perceived sexual orientation is a crime against all people and we must fight to end this cycle of hate once and for all.”

The four suspects — Nolis Ogando of 777 Seneca Ave. in Ridgewood, Luis Tabales and Alex Velex of 90-17 Jamaica Ave. in Richmond Hill and Christopher Lozada of 452 Onderdonk Ave. in Ridgewood, all 17 years old — were charged with manslaughter and gang assault, the DA said.

The four suspects were arraigned Monday and could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

They approached the party at 87-19 90th St. at about 12:50 p.m. Saturday morning along with several other individuals, according to the complaint.

A witness said someone in the group yelled, “Get the f--- out of the front. This is my hood,” the complaint said.

The witness then said three of the suspects began to chase Collao and another partygoer down the street, the complaint said.

The witness then lost sight of the group, but another witness told police that about five people pushed Collao up against a car and began to punch, kick and beat him with what appeared to be a stick, the complaint said.

The witness described what each person was wearing, and when police later arrested the suspects, each matched the witness’s report, the complaint said.

Velez allegedly hit Collao with what the witness described as a stick, Tabalas allegedly kicked the victim and Ogando allegedly hit and kicked the victim, the complaint said.

When police arrested the four suspects, Velez allegedly admitted to hitting the victim and Lozada was allegedly found wearing Collao’s Atlanta Braves baseball cap, the complaint said.

A bloody metal pipe was found near the scene of the attack, the complaint said.

“I was truly saddened to hear about the fatal attack in my district over the weekend. My prayers go out to the young victim’s family and friends,” said Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park). “Our streets will not be safe until the individuals who are responsible for this heinous crime are brought to justice. Senseless acts of violence such as this will simply not be tolerated.”

Police confirmed that the Hate Crimes Task Force was investigating the incident.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 10:48 am, October 12, 2011
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