Halloween melee suspects wait for court appearance

The Howard Beach community is playing the waiting game this week, as locals await the next court date for five individuals charged in the Halloween night attacks on Cross Bay Boulevard.
Talique Jackson, 16, Patrick Pugh, 18, George Morales, 25, Victor Tossas, 16, and Terrance Scott, 18, all from Brooklyn, will appear in court Friday, November 30 on charges of second-degree assault, second-degree menacing and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Several civic and political leaders in Howard Beach declined comment on the matter. One official said the issue was a “court case, and we’ll wait until after the court date Friday. After that, we’ll see what happens.”
The melee took place just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, October 31, when a group of young males chased a group of Howard Beach teens into a McDonald’s on Cross Bay Boulevard, where they assaulted the teens with hard objects, sending one victim to the hospital.
Police from the 106th Precinct made eight arrests, eventually charging the five individuals who are slated to appear in court November 30.
After a November 2 arraignment, Jackson and Scott were released on their own recognizance, while Morales and Tossas left after posting $1,500 bail. Pugh remained in custody after failing to post $10,000 bail.
Many residents in Howard Beach pressured investigators to pursue a hate crime case, noting that witnesses say the defendants - all black or Hispanic - called the victims, who were white, “crackers” and “white - - -.”
Howard Beach has been in the spotlight before in regards to racial issues, including the 1986 assault of three black men by white teenagers. One of the victims was killed after being chased by attackers onto a highway, where he was struck by a car.
In 2006, Howard Beach resident Nick Minucci was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being found guilty of racially motivated assault.
Joseph Suraci, Scott’s lawyer, believes the case against his client is weak.
“As it exists now, I don’t think the evidence is indicative of criminal behavior,” Suraci said.
Suraci declined further comment, but earlier published reports quote him as saying that the top charge is “assault in the second degree. [The criminal complaint] says that [Scott] was there, but there is no indication that he did any assaulting.”
Mehia Kim, the lawyer representing Jackson, did not return several calls for comment.
The upcoming court date will determine whether or not the defendants will be made to stand in a lineup.
Councilmember Joseph Addabbo urged locals to come forward with any information that might help investigators decide whether to prosecute the incident as a hate crime.
“The investigators weren’t there, so they need to be able to rely on the testimony of witnesses,” said Addabbo.
Addabbo said he does not plan to attend the upcoming court date.

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