Four stu­dents from same high school found dead in one month

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - STATE NEWS - By Frank Eltman And Clau­dia Tor­rens

>> The school year in one sub­ur­ban New York com­mu­nity has started with fu­ner­als, fear and frus­tra­tion.

Four teenagers from Brent­wood High School on Long Is­land have been found dead within the past month, all sus­pected vic­tims of gang vi­o­lence.

On Sept. 13, the day be­fore her 16th birth­day, Nisa Mick­ens’ bru­tally beaten body was found on a tree­lined street in Brent­wood. A day later, the beaten body of her life­long friend, 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas, was dis­cov­ered in the wooded back­yard of a nearby home. The teenagers had been in­sep­a­ra­ble and shared an in­ter­est in bas­ket­ball.

Days later, po­lice dis­cov­ered the skele­tal re­mains of 19-year-old Os­car Acosta and 15-year-old Miguel Gar­cia-Mo­ran in a re­mote in­dus­trial area of the town. Acosta had been miss­ing since May, and Gar­cia-Mo­ran van­ished in Fe­bru­ary.

Stu­dents are say­ing they’re afraid to walk alone in their com­mu­nity and school ad­min­is­tra­tors are warn­ing stu­dents not to wear the wear cloth­ing that could risk of­fend­ing vi­cious street thugs.

Alexis Por­tillo, 16, was dev­as­tated when he learned of the killings: “Like, who else is go­ing to be next, you know?”

One Brent­wood teen who wouldn’t give his name, say­ing he feared gang re­tal­i­a­tion, said many stu­dents are ner­vous.

“They don’t play around. If they don’t like you and if you do some­thing to them, they will come af­ter you,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to walk any­where. We’re def­i­nitely more cau­tious about that. I don’t go out at night any­more.”

A law en­force­ment of­fi­cial told The As­so­ci­ated Press that said the Sal­vado­ran gang MS-13 is sus­pected, al­though po­lice have not made ar­rests. The of­fi­cial was not au­tho­rized to talk pub­licly and spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity.

Like many sub­ur­ban ar­eas, Long Is­land has be­come a home to street gangs. At least 30 peo­ple have been killed by MS-13 gang mem­bers on Long Is­land since 2010.

“There’s def­i­nitely been an uptick, but we al­ways have bad crews op­er­at­ing here,” the of­fi­cial said.

In one par­tic­u­larly heinous killing, four MS-13 gang­sters were con­victed in the 2010 killing of a Long Is­land woman and her tod­dler son. Pros­e­cu­tors say the mother had al­legedly

shown dis­re­spect to the gang. Her child was mur­dered sim­ply be­cause he was with her.

In Brent­wood, po­lice are re­leas­ing few de­tails about their in­ves­ti­ga­tion into stu­dents’ deaths. Abra­ham Cha­parro, Gar­cia-Mo­ran’s step­fa­ther, said he was last seen head­ing off to meet some friends. He said his step­son, who em­i­grated from Ecuador two years ago, liked cars, soc­cer and girls. “He had a girl­friend in every cor­ner. He was good-look­ing,” Cha­parro said. “I don’t un­der­stand how this hap­pened. It’s a mys­tery.”

A large photo of the boy smil­ing in a white suit and black bow tie sat at the front of a fu­neral home chapel as mourn­ers paid re­spects this past week.

Maria Arias spent days go­ing door to door look­ing for her son, Os­car, af­ter he dis­ap­peared while re­port­edly go­ing to a nearby park to play soc­cer.

Suf­folk County Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ti­mothy Sini says de­tec­tives are op­ti­mistic about ar­rests. A “vi­o­lent known gang mem­ber” was in fed­eral cus­tody,

he said, but the ar­rest papers and charges are un­der seal and no one is say­ing if that sus­pect is tied to any of the killings.

Last week, in­ves­ti­ga­tors searched a shut­tered state psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal for ad­di­tional vic­tims but came up empty. All this leaves a com­mu­nity on edge.

Brent­wood school of­fi­cials said a fresh­man walk­ing to a bus stop with a light blue T-shirt in his hand was stopped last week by a group in a car. The driver de­manded the shirt, which was set on fire; the stu­dent was told not to wear that color again. Cur­tis Sliwa, founder of the New York City-based Guardian An­gels, a neigh­bor­hood pa­trol group that has now started pa­trols in Brent­wood, said blue is an MS-13 color.

School of­fi­cials ad­vised in a let­ter to par­ents that “chil­dren not wear cloth­ing that could be con­sid­ered to be gang-re­lated.”

Monique Dar­ri­saw-Akil, as­sis­tant su­per­in­ten­dent for sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion, con­ceded that “stu­dents some­times get in­volved in things that are not in their best in­ter­est or in the best in­ter­est of the school com­mu­nity, so we try to be as proac­tive, and pro­vide in­ter­ven­tions.”

CLAU­DIA TOR­RENS — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Sept. 27 photo, Abra­ham Cha­parro holds a pho­to­graph of his mur­dered step­son, Miguel Gar­ci­aMo­ran, out­side his home in Brent­wood. The re­mains of Gar­cia-Mo­ran, who was re­ported miss­ing in Fe­bru­ary, were found in Septem­ber. Mul­ti­ple teenagers from the same Long Is­land high school have been found dead and while po­lice sus­pect all the deaths are re­lated to gang vi­o­lence, they are re­leas­ing few de­tails.

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