2016-05-25 / Front Page

18-Years In Plea Deal For Fatal Woodhaven Gay Bash

By Liz Goff

A 21-year-old Bronx man was sentenced on May 11, to 18-years in prison for the 2011 brutal beating death of a Long Island teen outside an abandoned house in Woodhaven, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Brown said Alex Velez was one of six teenagers who followed Anthony Collao from a party at an abandoned house at 87-19 90th Street in the early morning hours of March 12, 2011.

The six teens refused to pay a $17 cover charge when they arrived at the birthday party, Brown said. They pushed their way inside where they made anti-gay remarks about Collao, who they believed was gay, Brown said.

Wielding a chrome bat, a pipe, a stick and a wooden cane, the teens followed Collao from the party and chased him to 90th Street between 88th and 89th Avenues, where they   slammed him against a car, shouting anti-gay slurs and threatening Coilao to “get out of the neighborhood,” investigators said.

The teens then threw Collao to the ground and punched, kicked and beat him with the pipe and other items, then stole his Atlanta Braves baseball cap and sneakers and fled the scene, Brown said.

Police recovered a blood-smeared metal pipe and a piece of fencing near Collao, both of which were used in the attack.

The mortally wounded, Collao was taken to Jamaica Hospital Center where he died two days later, after his family decided to remove him from life support. “There was no hope,” Collao’s father, Anthony, said. “It was time to end his suffering.”

Velez, who was 17-years-old at the time of the attack, was arrested with accomplices Nolis Ogando, 18, of Ridgewood, Christopher Lozada, 17, of Woodhaven, Calvin Pietri, 17, of Woodhaven, Luis Tabales, 16, of Richmond Hill and Jonathan Echevarria, 16, of Brooklyn. Each of the teens was charged in a 21-count indictment that included murder, manslaughter, assault and robbery as hate crimes, charges that could have put them behind bars for life.

Police caught up with five of the teens 15 minutes after the attack. Echevarria was arrested three months after the attack, Brown said.

Lozada was wearing Collao’s baseball cap at the time of his arrest, and the five Queens teenagers had blood all over their clothes when they were arrested, investigators said.

Coilao, who was not gay, lived on Long Island with his family and was planning to begin studying engineering at LaGuardia Community College in the fall of 2011. He made frequent trips to Woodhaven to visit his girlfriend, who was with him at the party on the night of the attack, family members said..

Velez, originally of Richmond Hill, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and gang assault in a plea deal with prosecutors that lifted the Hate Crime charge. Brown said Velez would have five-years of post-release supervision after his release from prison.

Pietri and Lozada, both 22, and Tabales, 21, pleaded guilty to gang assault and were sentenced to 4-16-years in prison, Brown said. Ogando, 23, and Eschevarria, 21, are still awaiting trial.

Pietri, who had a history of seven arrests, bragged about beating Collao on his Facebook page prior to his arrest, investigators said.

“Violence has no place in a civilized society and will not be tolerated in Queens County, which is proudly known as the most diverse urban area in the United States,” Brown said.

“When it does occur, those responsible will be brought to justice to answer for their actions.”

 

 

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