Four arrested in Jax Heights attack

Four arrested in Jax Heights attack
By Jeremy Walsh

Four men have been arrested on charges of beating a young man nearly to death in Jackson Heights early Friday across the street from the Junction Food Bazaar, police said.

Jamaica residents Jason Muniz, 20, and Luis Castro, 19, and Bayside resident Carlos Calixto, 18, were arrested Saturday on suspicion of gang assault, assault and criminal weapons possession, police said. Police did not name the fourth suspect after charges against him were dropped.

Muniz, Castro and Calixto were arraigned Saturday at Queens Criminal Court. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison, the Queens district attorney's office said. Their next court date is July 21.

Around 4 a.m. at 34-37 Junction Blvd., the 22-year-old victim got into an argument with at least six men, police said.

The men allegedly kicked and beat him unconscious, one using a bottle and another using a belt rolled around his fist, a police source said. The victim suffered massive head trauma, a fractured skull, a broken jaw and likely brain damage, according to a criminal complaint filed by the Queens district attorney's office.

The victim was taken to Elmhurst Hospital, where he is listed in critical condition, police said. Charges against the suspects will be upgraded if the victim dies, police said.

The victim did not know his attackers, police said. They do not believe the incident was gang-related.

The suspects do not have extensive criminal records, a police source said. They were apprehended after being identified on security camera footage, the police source said.

The attack comes after a public outcry over a gang-related shooting on Roosevelt Avenue in May. Five people were shot, only one of whom is a suspected gang member, police said. Suspects in that attack were also caught on surveillance cameras, police said.

Major index crimes in the 115th Precinct are down 5 percent for the year, but felony assaults are on the rise, according to online crime statistics. The precinct recorded 136 incidents through June 29 compared with 119 for the same period of 2007, an increase of 14 percent.

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.