Arrest after knife fight in downtown Riverhead

Phillipe Robinette

An Ohio man was arrested Monday after he stabbed a gang member who had baited him into a confrontation on Main Street, Riverhead Police said.

Philippe Robinette, 26, of Akron, Ohio, stabbed 30-year-old Brian Castillo of Riverhead three times at around 1 p.m. Monday after Mr. Castillo, a self-professed Latin King gang member, confronted Mr. Robinette, whom he believed to be a member of a rival gang, police said.

Mr. Robinette, a Riverhead native who was visiting friends and family, was about to eat lunch at Spicy’s Barbecue on the south side of West Main Street, police said. Mr. Castillo, who was standing just outside the Seafield drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, allegedly started cursing at Mr. Robinette, who was dressed in all blue, the color of the rival gang the Crips, according to police. Mr. Robinette denied any gang involvement, police said.

Mr. Robinette’s girlfriend was with him and their 1-year-old child. At first, she “was able to talk him into letting it go,” said Riverhead Detective Robert Haley.

But as the couple exited the restaurant, Mr. Castillo was still outside and what had started as a verbal altercation quickly turned into a physical struggle in the middle of the road, according to police. It was unclear to police who first pulled out the knife.

Mr. Robinette stabbed Mr. Castillo in the left side, left shoulder and right index finger. Mr. Castillo was able to walk into the Seafield Center and ask employees to call an ambulance.

“There was just a lot of cops,” said an employee at the nearby Lighthouse Insurance Agency. “We seen a stretcher go out,” added a colleague.

Police said Mr. Robinette attempted to flee by foot, leading police through the Riverhead Free Library before he was caught near the intersection of Marcy Avenue and West Main Street, Det. Haley said. He is being held on $50,000 bail, police said.

Mr. Castillo was treated at Peconic Bay Medical Center and released.

Despite this week’s incident, Det. Haley said gang violence is not a rising concern in the Riverhead area.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a big problem,” he said. “[But] I don’t think any community is immune from it.”

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