By Naeisha Rose
The 103rd Precinct has identified a fourth suspect in the July 11 gang assault and robbery of a 50-year-old mother of two who was leaving Celestial Church of Christ in Jamaica last week.
The police were searching for Isaiah Shorter, 20, a black male with brown eyes and black hair.
Three other suspects — Brandon Walker, 20, Julisses Ginel, 19 and Justin Williams, 17 — were arrested and arraigned July 14 on multiple charges of criminal sex act, robbery and sex abuse charges, according to the Queens district attorney.
The woman was taken to Elmhurst Hospital Center where she was in stable condition, police said.
The three defendants live in SCO Family Services, a transitional independent living center, which provides services to homeless youth and young adults up to age 21. It is located on South Road in Jamaica.
The center opened over a year ago, but the community was not informed that it was coming to Jamaica, officials said.
The four suspects were said to have a “pack-like mentality,” according to Queens DA Richard Brown.
Williams allegedly approached the unidentified woman with what appeared to be a firearm at the intersection of 150th Street and Beaver Road at about 10:30 p.m. as she walked home and demanded that she give him money and her cell phone, the criminal complaints filed by the DA’s office said. Walker allegedly went up to her and asked her to take her clothes off and perform oral sex on them, according to prosecutors.
The victim tried to defend herself, but Ginel and the man believed to be Shorter threatened to shoot her, the complaint said. Williams and Walker forced the victim to perform a sexual act on them, according to the DA’s office.
The DA said two of the defendants were suspected of holding up three innocent men at gunpoint the next night and stealing their personal property.
Someone who worked at the center informed on the four young men, according to the Department of Youth & Community Development spokesman Mark Zustovich and the NYPD. DYCD is the city organization that supervises and funds SCO.
“An employee at a transitional independent living program for young adults discovered that residents served through the program might be linked to the attack reported in the media,” Leslie Johnson, the director of communications at SCO, said in a statement. “Our staff took action and alerted the authorities, which directly led to the arrests.”
According to a consultant for SCO who asked to remain anonymous, the Jamaica center that opened over a year ago was specifically meant to help young men that ask for “right to shelter.” They are required to focus on pursuing work or school, while remaining out of adult homeless shelters so they can become self-sufficient in the future. This is the first time an incident happened in the organization’s 30 years.
State Sen. Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) was devastated to hear about what happened to the woman and disappointed to learn of another social service center built in the southeast Queens area without community approval. Earlier this year he put forth a bill that would require agencies to consider community feedback on the location of homeless shelters.
“He was unaware of the existence of that group home at that site prior to the reports of the attack,” said Andrew Taranto, a spokesman for Comrie. “Like so many others, he was horrified by the news of what happened. As she, her family, and her congregation heal from this tragedy, he is praying for her serenity and strength and for justice to be served.”
The church’s pastor, Kehinde Oyetunde, said the church is doing everything to support the victim and spoke of her current state.
“She’s trying to get past the shock, she’s not feeling well,” the pastor said. “Right now she is down. She was the type of woman that would take care of everybody. She feels weak and scared.”
The pastor said that since the social worker is in a very emotionally fragile state and has taken time off from work, the church would financially assist her, her husband and their children.
“We are helping her counseling-wise and we are trying to raise funds for her,” Oyetunde said. “We started a GoFundMe page so that everybody could give her a helping hand.”
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose