Three Hispanic men who are members of the violent street gang Mara Salvatrucha, more commonly known as MS-13, murdered two men and shot a teenager in the head, nearly killing him, over the past three months, Suffolk police said Thursday.
In the first case, Edwin Ortiz, 19, of Brentwood shot and killed Dexter Acheampong, 24, in Central Islip on May 26, according to Homicide Squad detectives who charged Ortiz with second-degree murder. Acheampong’s body had been found wedged between a car and the garage at the East Maple Street home where he lived with his family.
Twenty days later, on the evening of June 15, Alexander A. Aguilar, 18, of Deer Park, fired his gun into a group and shot Wilson Batista, 13, in the head at Timberline Park in Brentwood while Batista played basketball with his friends, police said. Aguilar was charged with first-degree assault in that case and Batista is still recovering.
In the most recent case, Jose Gomez Amaya, 20, of Central Islip, stabbed to death Edgar Villalobos, 28, on Patton Street in Brentwood on July 20, police said. Amaya, Ortiz and Aguilar were all charged with second-degree murder for their alleged involvement in the killing.
All three suspects told police that they thought Acheampong and Batista were members of the Bloods, a gang that MS-13 is at war with, because the victims appeared African-American and the Bloods are a predominantly black gang, according to Detective Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, commanding officer of the Homicide Squad.
“They appeared to be black and, in the perpetrators’ mind, members of the Bloods,” Fitzpatrick said. Batista is Hispanic and neither he nor Acheampong were gang members. In both cases the three suspects were trying to stake a territorial claim for MS-13, he added.
In the murder of Villalobos there were also gang overtones. The victim had started a conversation with the three suspects while at a Bay Shore deli and Villalobos allegedly told them that he was also in MS-13, but the three suspects were suspicious, Fitzpatricjk said. All four then went to Brentwood where they were going to find and attack a member of the Latin Kings, another Hispanic gang that MS-13 is at war with, but instead the three suspects turned on Villalobos, according to Fitzpatrick.
Villalobos was shot, stabbed, punched and kicked and one of the weapons used was a machete, police said. “They’re clearly very dangerous,” Fitzpatrick said of the three suspects, describing the crimes as “senseless.”
The Villalobos case became the latest flare-up in the battle between Suffolk’s police unions and Richard Dormer, the police commissioner, after the victim’s body remained in the street for more than eight hours because of a new policy that eliminated paying a Homicide Squad detective to be on standby during the overnight shift. He will testify before the Suffolk County Legislature on the issue on Monday.
See also: Our special series Gangs of Long Island.