The New York City Police Department has
arrested a serial gay basher believed to be involved in at least
three attacks on gay men in the city, NY1 reported.
Police allege Driton Nicaj, 19, along
with as many as five other men, violently attacked and robbed two gay
men on the city's Upper East Side. Nicaj, the police say, has also
admitted to being at the scene when a third man was assaulted.
Police continue to search for accomplices.
Nicaj and the other men began beating
and robbing gay men in May, police say.
The first attack took place on May 31
when a group of at least four men surrounded two 19-year-old gay men
sitting in Carl Schurz Park at 2AM. The gang used anti-gay slurs as
they “forcibly” robbed the men.
Joseph Halladay, who was vising from
Boston, became the gang's second victim on June 27 at 4AM.
Halladay was robbed at gun point, beaten
and called a “faggot” by four to six men outside of the apartment
where he was staying as he smoked a cigarette. The attack left
Halladay unconscious and bleeding in the street. A large wound to
the forehead that required multiple stitches was still raw when he
spoke at a July 1 press conference.
“Suddenly, out of nowhere, I was
attacked by some men, they were calling me faggot,” the
36-year-old said. “They beat me hard, and unconscious, leaving
me laying in a pool of blood.”
Nicaj witnessed the Halladay attack but
claims he was not involved, police said.
A third attack on a 40-year-old gay man
occurred the next day, June 28. Michael Doane was attacked at 3:20AM
on 84th Street and Second Avenue. Doane suffered a broken
nose and two skull fractures at the hands of two men who stole an
iPod while using homophobic slurs, NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne
Police said Nicaj, an Albanian
immigrant with prior arrests in Pennsylvania for drugs and drunken
driving, has confessed to beating and robbing Doane, and is expected
to be arraigned Friday evening.
He has been charged with robbery and
aggravated harassment, and both charges have been enhanced with hate