Ten arrested after gang’s brutal anti-gay attacks

Ten men are being charged with torturing and beating three gay men in a spate of violence in Morris Heights.

The attackers, aged 16 through 23, are said by police to be part of a gang called the Latin King Goonies and allegedly attacked and tortured two 17-year-olds and a 30-year-old after questioning them about their sexual orientation inside 1910 Osborne Place on Sunday, October 3.

The gang members allegedly lured a prospective gang member to the apartment and tortured him with a box cutter, then sodomized him with a wooden stick until he admitted that he was gay.

They brought another 17-year-old and the 30-year-old to the same apartment and tortured them, including sodomizing another with a wooden object and repeating, according to a complaint report, “You like this.”

The most serious charge some of the defendants face, Gang Assault in the First Degree, carries a sentence of 25 years to life, but not all defendants are charged with the same crimes, as the attacks went on for hours.

Borough President Diaz denounced the attacks forcefully.

“The news of these hate crimes saddens us all, and I am grateful that the NYPD has moved so quickly against those responsible for these homophobic attacks,” Diaz said.

Arrested were: Ildefonzo Mendez, 23; Elmer Confresi, 23; David Rivera, 21; Bryan Almonte, 17; Nelson Falu, 17; Dennis Piters, 17; Steven Caraballo, 17; and Brian Cepeda, 17.

Two other defendants, Jose Dominguez, 22, and Ruddy Vargas-Perez, 22, were still awaiting arraignment as of press time.

The borough’s gay community is mobilizing in the wake of the attacks, which have also been denounced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn.

Lewis Goldstein, vice chairman of the Bronx Democratic County Committee and a liaison to the LGBT community, thanked elected officials for their support and called for swift and severe punishment if the suspects are found guilty.

“These acts of hatred against anybody must be punished and punished severely,” Goldstein said. “The Bronx is not full of bigots. We are confident that District Attorney Robert Johnson will prosecute all perpetrators of hate crimes in this borough.”

Dirk McCall, executive director the Bronx Community Pride Center, located at 448 E. 149th Street, said that in the coming weeks the Bronx LGBT community will be organizing a response to the attacks. It will allow the victims and all affected by the violence to speak about their experiences.

“We have confidence in the justice system,” said McCall, “and will be there to monitor it every step of the way.”

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