According to police, a man on Long Island was charged with several hate crimes after picking up a Hispanic day laborer at a gathering site and driving him to a remote location.
Police said the series of attacks began early Friday when a 19-year-old man, Christopher Serra, drove near the Latino market and restaurant in Farmingville, New York. La Prasita on the market is popular with migrant men in the area waiting nearby in hopes of landing a temporary job.
Police said Serra picked up a 52-year-old man there, took him to an abandoned construction site, and attacked him.
Serra then went to a nearby Seven-Eleven store, another informal employment hub for day laborers, picked up a 60-year-old man, drove to an apartment complex, and police said he also attacked. Said. According to officials, Mr. Serra strangled him from behind and strangled him violently before the man escaped.
Earlier Saturday, police said Mr. Serra had returned to Seven-Eleven to pick up a 47-year-old man. When I got in the car, the man went out suspicious of Sera’s intention. Authorities said Mr Serra tried to hunt him down.
According to police, all three victims were Hispanic, and Serra, Selden, NY, was arrested and charged with several hate crimes on Sunday. He will be released under GPS surveillance on Monday’s prosecution and will return to court on Friday.
In a telephone interview on Monday, Serra denied that the episode was racially motivated, involving a man who felt his prolonged hostility as a result of the painting work they worked on together. Said.
“It’s not racial,” Serra said. He added that he simply intended to drive the man to remote areas where it was difficult to get home, and not to enter into physical quarrels.
“My intention was not to do anything to hurt them,” he said.
The attack was the result of being under the influence of Xanax, a psychiatric drug prescribed to treat anxiety and panic disorders, but warned the Food and Drug Administration that it carries a significant risk of abuse and addiction. He added.
In a statement, Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini described the accusation against Mr. Serra as “very uneasy.”
“Defendants allegedly targeted these victims for ethnicity and seduced them by pretending to be false before carrying out these violent attacks,” Shini said. ..
When he was arrested, court records indicate that Mr. Serra was released on bail last month after being charged with two felony weapons and misdemeanor charges in Brooklyn.
He was arrested in the case after police encountered him in the Bedford-Stuyvesant district and discovered that the pouch on his chest was loaded with an unlicensed 9 mm pistol and additional ammunition. Records show that it was done. According to court records, he also had Xanax pills at the time.
A lawyer representing Mr. Serra in the Brooklyn case did not respond to a request for comment.
In an interview, Mr. Serra admitted that he did not have a gun license, but claimed that he simply brought a gun when he and some of his friends traveled to shoot a video. He also said he did not believe police had a possible cause of the search that led to the gun accusation.
Serra lives in both Selden and Farmingville in the town of Brookhaven, with a median annual income of $ 70,000 and 28% of the 54,000 residents are Hispanic.
Hostility to immigrants has sporadically occurred in the last two decades in violent and widely reported incidents in the region, including one targeting day laborers picked up at the same Seven-Eleven in Farmingville. ..
In 2000, two men disguised as contractors promised two Latin workers there to work, then drove them to an abandoned warehouse and beat them with crowbars, shovels and knives. Three years later, four teenagers were charged with incendiary bombs on a Latino family home in Farmingville. And in 2005, two men were charged with assault after shouting ethnic slurs and throwing bottles at workers outside Seven-Eleven.
In perhaps the most notorious such episode, a group of teenagers beat Ecuadorian Marcelo Lucero in 2008 when they returned home from a dry-cleaning job at nearby Patchoguen, also in Brookhaven. I killed you.
News reports of the murder drew public attention to the anti-immigrant tensions that were boiling in the area. One of the teenagers involved in the murder was convicted of manslaughter as a hate crime and sentenced to 25 years in prison. Others have pleaded guilty to various crimes related to the attack.
On Monday, Nadia Marin-Molina, Executive Secretary of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, called the attack by Cella a severe flashback to previous incidents.
Marin Molina stopped such attacks after President Donald J. Trump’s policy of visiting the area as the focus of migrant crackdowns, and she said she was distrustful among migrants on Long Island. After the arrest of an MS-13 gang member who urged officials elected to take action to address what he said.
“We encourage people who may have information about us and community organizations,” she said.
Marcelo Lucero’s younger brother Joselo Lucero spoke in a dark tone when he heard the attack on Monday.
“It’s been years, but it looks like we’re back in the same place,” he said in Spanish.
In La Placeta, where Serra was accused of picking up the first victim, Monday’s mood was tense among day laborers gathering there to share meals, said manager Jose Flores. Said in a telephone interview. He said most of the workers were from Mexico.
“Many people are talking about it,” Flores said. “They will be afraid to come to pick you up, but at the same time they have to go out and work.”
Sheelagh McNeill contributed to the research.