Suspect Arrested in Latest SI Hate Crime; Victim Speaks Out

15-year-old boy being questioned in attack

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCNewYork
    The latest attack in Staten Island marks at least the seventh since April.

    Police have arrested a 15-year-old Staten Island boy for attacking and robbing a Mexican teen early Saturday morning, the latest in a streak of violent hate-crimes plaguing the borough.

    The boy was arrested on Sunday night and is charged with aggravated harassment, assault and robbery, all as hate crimes.  He will be charged as a minor in  family court.  Police are still searching for two accomplices.

    The eighteen-year-old victim, Christian Vazquez,  is a youth leader with a local anti-bias youth group, said the Rev. Terry Troia, who knows him from volunteering with the organization. 

    "They hit my from the back, knocked me down. they called me names -- 'F-ing Mexican, weback,'" said Vazquez.

    "This has to stop," an angry Vazquez said to NBCNewYork -- his eye swollen. "Sooner or later someone's going to die..

    Mayor Bloomberg said earlier today, "One bias crime is one bias crime too many and we'll do everything we can to stop it. This is just an outrage."

    Vasquez is a senior in high school who works as a busboy in Manhattan, was returning home at 2:30 am on Saturday when the accused 15-year-old and several others accosted him, insulted him with racial slurs, took $10, and left him with a black eye, swollen face, and several cuts.

    Saturday morning's attack is the latest in a troubling spate of racially-motivated hate crimes in Staten Island since April.  Police had increased patrols across the borough only days before.

    "I felt kind of safe because of the police force that's been out here for the last few weeks," said Vazquez. "I felt safe. But I guess I was wrong."

    The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force found the teenaged suspect, who lives near the scene of the attack, using witnesses' description of a young black male with a mohawk and soon found found him, sources told the New York Post.

    The attacks in recent months generally have involved groups of at least two suspects, mostly teenage boys and young men about 14 through 20, targeting a man of Mexican descent walking alone. The victims are usually robbed of cash, an average of about $200, beaten and insulted with phrases like "go back where you came from," police have said.

    Police have arrested eight people in three separate incidents on charges of assault as a hate crime.

    Besides increasing police presence in the area, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly met this week with Mexican Consul General Ruben Beltran to discuss the attacks. The consulate said it was posting personnel in Staten Island until further notice to safeguard Mexicans' rights.