Riverhead man charged with attempted murder in Nassau County stabbing


A Riverhead man has been charged with attempted murder and a slew of weapons and assault charges for his alleged role in the stabbing of a 23-year-old man in Nassau County in February, Nassau County police said Tuesday.

Manuel Pelaez, 21, was arrested at his home on Wilson Avenue in Riverhead about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday by the Special Investigations Gang Squad, NY/NJ Fugitive Task Force and Nassau County police in connection with the Feb. 23 assault in Inwood, according to a police statement.

Police say Mr. Pelaez along with his cousin, Erick Pelaez, 27, of North Lawrence and another man, Sergio Acosta, 18 of Inwood, followed the victim home from the Carisma Restaurant in Lawrence about 4:15 a.m., then struck him “repeatedly about the body” as he got close to his house in Inwood.

Manuel Pelaez and the other alleged attackers then dragged the victim behind a house on the street and stabbed him multiple times before fleeing the scene on foot, police said.

The victim was taken to an area hospital where he was treated for “stab wounds to the throat, arms and legs,” according to the police statement. Police did not provide an update on the man’s condition.

Manuel Pelaez was taken into custody and charged with second-degree attempted murder, a class “A-1” felony, as well as first-degree gang assault, first-degree assault, second-degree Assault — all felonies — and fourth-degree possession of a dangerous weapon, a class “A” misdemeanor. The weapons charge is related to the knife Mr. Pelaez allegedly used in the crime, while gang assault refers to the way the three allegedly attacked the man together, and doesn’t imply the stabbing is gang-related, Nassau police said.

He will be arraigned in First District court in Hempstead Tuesday, police said.

Erick Pelaez and Mr. Acosta were arrested on May 4 and May 31 respectively, and face the same charges except second-degree assault felony, police said.

Erick Pelaez pleaded not guilty to the charges at his arraignment on May 5 and is being held without bail, court officials said. Mr. Acosta was arraigned on July 1, police said.

Mr. Pelaez rented a room in a home on Wilson Avenue prior to his arrest, an owner of the property said Tuesday afternoon.

The homeowner, who gave his name as Julio, said he rented out a spare bedroom in his ranch home to a man who ran a local landscaping business. The landscaping boss would then send some of his employees to live in the room over several months and would vouch for their character, Julio said.

The homeowner said he didn’t know Mr. Pelaez well and that the man had lived in the home for about a month. Julio said he had been told Mr. Pelaez was a good renter by the man’s boss, and didn’t think anything of letting him stay in the house.

The owner said he was shocked when police swarmed his house early Tuesday morning, coming through the door and demanding to see Mr. Pelaez.

“The boss said he was a beautiful guy,” Julio said. “I don’t think so.”

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