Two men have been arrested and charged
with the beating and killing of an Ecuadorian immigrant thought to be
gay by his assailants, reports the Spanish news agency EFE.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
joined Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly at a Friday press
conference at police department headquarters to announce the arrests.
Hakim Scott, 25, was arrested on
Wednesday and arraigned the next day on a charge of second-degree
murder as a hate crime. A second man, Keith Phoenix, 28, was
arrested on Friday. Both men have confessed to the December 7 hate
crime slaying of Jose Sucuzhanay.
Phoenix had been identified by police
through video surveillance taken at a tollbooth at the Robert F.
Kennedy Bridge where he is seen laughing 19 minutes after the attack.
Kelly said police detectives collared
Phoenix in a Yonkers apartment at 2:30AM, where he was hiding in the
bathroom. Phoenix protested his arrest saying, “So I killed
someone. That makes me a bad guy?”
Jose Sucuzhanay and his brother Romel
were attacked in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn while walking
home arm-in-arm from a bar. Their attackers yelled anti-gay and
anti-Latino slurs as they beat them. Kelly said Phoenix wielded the
death blow to the head with an aluminum bat and even returned to
strike Jose Sucuzhanay again after he noticed the 31-year-old move.
Romel Sucuzhanay managed to escape and call police.
Jose Sucuzhanay, a real estate broker,
died five days later at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens.
On Saturday, at his arraignment,
Phoenix's lawyer, Jay H. Schwitzman, said his client denies being
motivated by hate; it was self-defense. The brothers provoked Scott
into a fight when they kicked the SUV the two men were sitting in and
Phoenix only became involved because he believed the immigrant was
reaching for a gun in his waistband, his lawyer said.
“It was not a hate crime. I know the
police have a different version,” Schwitzman said.
At Friday's media event, Mayor
Bloomberg called the attack “a deadly combination of ethnic and
“We cannot stay silent when people
are attacked because of their sexual orientation, their race, their
gender, or whatever it is,” Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J.
Hynes said. “Because clearly here, these two young men were
attacked because these people, these cretins, thought they were gay.
And it makes it no less despicable that they weren't gay.”
Kelly said investigators continue
looking for additional suspects.
The deadly attack came on the heels of
the killing of Marcelo Lucero, another Ecuadorian immigrant who was
stabbed to death on Long Island by seven teenagers in November.
Investigators allege Lucero's attackers were on the hunt for a