Four Held In Brutal Queens Killing Marked by Anti-Gay Slurs
By Paul Schindler
Gay City News
The NYPD has arrested four teenage men in the beating and stomping death of Anthony Collao, an 18-year-old Long Islander attacked when the suspects allegedly forced their way into a birthday party in an abandoned house in Woodhaven, Queens, shouting anti-gay slurs, and chased the victim out of the house.
Collao, who was attacked in the early morning hours of March 12, died in Jamaica Hospital on March 14, after being taken off life support.
The Daily News, on March 15, quoted Police Commissioner Ray Kelly saying, “It appears to have all the elements of a hate crime. The hate crime task force is involved.”
Kelly said a fifth suspect is being sought.
The four suspects in custody — Alex Velez, 16, of the Bronx, and Nolis Ogando, Christopher Lozada, and Luis Tabales, all 17 and from Queens — were arraigned on the evening of March 14 on charges of first-degree manslaughter, first-degree gang assault, and fourth-degree weapons possession.
A spokesperson for the Queens district attorney’s office told Gay City News that a metal pipe was found at the crime scene.
Asked about the lack of a hate crime charge, the spokesperson emphasized that the killing is still under investigation.
The men are each being held on bail of between $100,000 and $200,000.
One of the two party hosts, who was celebrating his 20th birthday, told the Daily News, “They called us homos and all kinds of stuff.”
Though friends said the victim had a girlfriend and was not gay, the newspaper reported that the two men who threw the party are.
One witness told the Daily News that when the assailants caught Collao, they forced him up against a car and “beat him to within an inch of his life.”
One of those arrested — who were all apprehended shortly after the killing — was wearing Collao’s Atlanta Braves’ cap, and the other three had blood on them, the newspaper reported.
Collao, who grew up in Queens before his family moved to Long Island several years ago, had planned to go into the family ice cream business in the borough.
Pauline Park, president of the board of Queens Pride House, the borough’s LGBT community center, noted that there have been a number of hate crimes aimed at LGBT people — or those perceived to be so — in Queens in recent years.
“We call upon the police to fully investigate this crime in order to determine the extent to which homophobic hate motivated the perpetrators to kill Anthony Callao,” she said.
This story originally appeared in the 17 March 2011 issue of Gay City News.