By Dustin Brown
Two Sunnyside men and a third suspect from Little Neck were arrested last weekend for allegedly taunting and severely beating a man on Manhattan's Upper East Side in an apparent anti-gay bias attack, authorities said.
Oscar Afre, 22, of 41-22 45th St. in Sunnyside; Christopher Pan, 26, of 39-37 46th St. in Sunnyside; and Mirsad Suljovic, 22, of 252-68 Brattle Ave. in Little Neck were charged with attempted gang assault and attempted assault at their arraignment Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.
Judge William Harrington set bail at $35,000 for Afre, who is believed to have instigated the attack, and $20,000 for Pan and Suljovic, according to the authorities.
Raymond Spreng, 53, had just left a bar on the Upper East Side and was walking along East 83rd Street at East End Avenue around 4 a.m. Sunday when the three Queens men allegedly approached him, police said.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the Manhattan DA's office, Afre sparked the attack by repeatedly shouting “Faggot!” at Spreng, who responded by saying he did not want any trouble from them.
But the group apparently ignored his pleas. Afre allegedly began punching Spreng in the head with a closed fist, while Suljovic and Pan joined the attack by throwing him to the ground and striking him in the stomach, the DA said.
As all three violently punched and kicked Spreng in the head and body while he laid on the ground, Afre proclaimed, “I'm going to kill this faggot!” the complaint alleges. Afre then allegedly capped off the attack by picking up a bike frame from the street and using it to hit Spreng, the DA said.
Officer Michael Foley of the 19th Precinct found Afre holding the bike frame with blood all over his face and clothes when he arrived at the scene, the complaint said. All three men were found with blood on themselves when police nabbed them, according to the complaint.
Spreng was taken to Cornell Medical Center where he was treated with 12 stitches for lacerations to his head and eye, as well as bruising all across his body and face.
Gay activists from Queens condemned the attack while calling for better education to prevent anti-gay hate crimes.
“We still do not have any programs in the New York City public school system that deals with teaching young men like these three young men that this type of gay bashing is wrong,” said Daniel Dromm, the chairman of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee who is also a social studies teacher at PS 199 in Sunnyside, where two of the alleged attackers live.
Jimmy Van Bramer, the co-vice president of the Guillermo Vasquez Independent Democratic Club, a Queens gay political organization, said he was disturbed by the young ages of the accused attackers.
“Far too many people who engage in violent behavior toward gays and lesbians are, in fact, young men,” Van Bramer said. “I hope as a society and as a borough we continue to make progress in reaching people and letting them know that this kind of behavior is unacceptable and we cannot tolerate it.”
Reach reporter Dustin Brown by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.