2015-12-09 / Front Page

Community Rallies Against Bias Crimes

By Liz Goff

Local lawmakers, neighborhood activists and members of the Jackson Heights LGBT community rallied last week to decry two recent, violent attacks involving a transgender woman and a gay man.

Police at the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force are investigating the brutal beating of a transgender woman who was attacked on November 29, in front of her apartment on 83rd Street near 37th Place.”

Police said Ricardo Antonio Zacarias Sal, 35, who goes by the name, Kathy, was about to enter his basement apartment at about 4 a.m. on November 29, when he got into a dispute with an unidentified man.

Eyewitnesses told police the suspect suddenly grabbed Sal and repeatedly hit him in the head and face, “punching him over ane over.” An onlooker shouted at the suspect, telling him to stop and that police were on their way, a police source said. The warning didn’t move the suspect, who “just kept pounding on the man,” eyewitnesses said.

When he was done beating the man the attacker started to walk away, a police source said. “But he turned back and dragged the man toward the curb,” the source said. “He grabbed the man and kept slamming his head on the curb before fleeing north on 83rd Street.”

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where he is recovering from bleeding on the brain and multiple facial and skull fractures. He regained consciousness and was removed from a respirator on December 1, but he remains in critical condition, a police source said.

Investigators are trying to determine if there was a romantic relationship between Sol and his attacker, a police source said. “The detectives are still trying to sort things out to determine if this was a domestic assault or an attack by a stranger.”

Police said the attack was initially classified as a robbery. “Investigators at the Hate Crimes Task Force were brought in to help determine if the assault was a bias crime,” a police source said. “They are reviewing surveillance taken from local businesses to help identify the attacker.”

The suspect is described as a male Hispanic in his 30s, about 5-feet, 8-inches tall and 200 pounds. He was wearing a black hoodie and dark pants at the time of the attack, police said.

Police are also investigating the violent attack of a 23-year-old gay man who was beaten and sexually assaulted just a day later.

Cops said the victim had just hugged his boyfriend goodbye on 74th Street and Roosevelt Avenue at about 9 p.m. on November 30 when he noticed three men staring at him.

The man ducked into a nearby coffee shop and waited for a few minutes before he ventured back to the street, where he noticed the three men were still following him, police said.

The men chased the victim down 83rd Street toward 37th Avenue, where all three kicked and robbed the man, and then beat him unconscious with a metal pipe, police said. The victim told police he awoke to find one man standing behind him, hitting him in the back with the pipe. The victim told police the men started shouting anti-gay slurs at him, and then dragged him behind a trash container where each man sexually assaulted him.

The men grabbed the victim’s jacket, cell phone, shoes, wallet and cash before fleeing the scene, police said. Cops at the Hate Crimes Task Force are investigating the attack as a bias crime, police said.

“I am shocked and outraged by these two atrocities that occurred just hours apart,” City Councilmember Daniel Dromm said. “The survivors of these attacks may have been targeted because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. If true, these attacks are attempts to strike feat in the hearts of the LGBT community and the neighborhood at large,” Dromm said. “We will not tolerate hate.”

Rally organizer Jennifer Louise Lopez said the victim spoke for the first time on December 1.”Doctors said it’s a very good first sign, a first step toward recovery,” Lopez said.

Others at the rally said Sal told detectives her attacker was a stranger. “We do not agree with the possibility that this was a domestic crime,” one participant. “We are demanding action to stop hate crimes against transgender, gay and lesbian victims.”

Lopez told reporters the LGBT community would be holding additional rallies in an effort to pressure the NYPD and the Queens District Attorney’s office to make arrests in both cases.

State Assemblymember Francisco Moya attended the rally, where he told the crowd that he is “saddened and appalled by the two attacks.

“There is no space for violence in our community and such abhorrent behavior will not be tolerated,” Moya said. “We in Jackson Heights pride ourselves on our culture, diversity and acceptance,” he said. “We must never let hate or violence win over tolerance and peaceful resolution of differences.”

Police officials said investigations are ongoing in both incidents.

Police are urging anyone with information on either attack to call the CrimeStoppers HOTLINE at 1-800-577-TIPS or click on www.nypdcrimestoppers.com.

The HOTLINE is offering a reward of up to $2,500 to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.




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