An Aquebogue teenager was one of three people arrested in connection with a gang-related shooting in Southold early Tuesday morning, Southold Town police said Wednesday. The people arrested are members of the MS-13 street gang, police said.
The three people arrested were: Pedro Emilio Santamaria, 31, of Greenport; Jeremias Nathanael Recinos Torres, 19, of Aquebogue; and Walter Vasquez, 17, of Greenport, police said. All three were charged with first-degree assault, police said.
Mr. Santamaria and Mr. Recinos Torres were additionally charged with criminal possession of a weapon, police said. Mr. Recinos Torres and Mr. Vasquez are both in the United States illegally and are currently in removal proceedings, police said.
The three men were arraigned Wednesday in Southold Town Justice Court. They are each being held on $250,000 cash bail or $750,000 bond. Judge Rudolph Bruer presided. They’re due back in Southold Town Justice Court Friday.
“This investigation is still very much active,” Southold Town Police Chief Martin Flatley wrote in an email to reporters Tuesday night.
The violence that occurred just after midnight Tuesday stemmed from a dispute that occurred Oct. 10 at Third Street Park in Greenport, police said. The victims, whose identities have not been released, are allegedly members of Mara-18, or 18th Street, a rival street gang, police said.
The victims were walking along Route 25 and South Harbor Road in Southold, where they both live, when they were spotted by the MS-13 members Tuesday. The MS-13 members ambushed the victims, police said, and as many as five shots were fired from a .22-caliber handgun. One victim was attacked with a machete, police said.
A responding officer spotted Mr. Santamaria and Mr. Recinos Torres in a parked vehicle a short distance from the scene, police said. The officer found a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the vehicle.
Police took both men into custody and, during the investigation, discovered Mr. Vasquez was also involved. Police arrested Mr. Vasquez at Greenport High School, police said.
The three men were arraigned Wednesday afternoon. The victims remain hospitalized at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead where they are in stable condition, according to a hospital spokesperson.
Southold Town police received a 911 call at 12:23 a.m. about an assault at a house on South Harbor Road, where they found two men suffering from gunshot wounds, according to a news release.
Southold Fire Department rescue volunteers were called to the scene after the area was cleared, Fire Chief Peggy Killian said. Chief Killian, who handled the first victim, said the man had been shot in the stomach and was “very seriously” hurt.
“He was bleeding out,” she said. “He was hurt.”
The man was rushed into surgery at PBMC. The second man was shot in the shoulder and had also been cut, Chief Killian said. He was also taken to the Riverhead hospital for treatment.
An update on their condition was not immediately available Wednesday because their names had been released.
A woman who answered the door Tuesday afternoon at the house where the shooting allegedly occurred declined comment, saying in Spanish that she did not speak English. Beer bottles and a gauze wrapper littered the lawn there and a work boot could be seen a few feet away on a neighbor’s driveway.
South Harbor resident Allan Connell, who said he’s lived in his home since 1983, said he heard at least four gunshots Tuesday.
“It sounded like a hammer hitting a metal post,” Mr. Connell said Wednesday. “I could hear car doors closing, so I finally got up and I could see the police in front of my house. They had flashlights and were searching all over the place.”
Vincent Gatt, another nearby resident, expressed disbelief that a shooting occurred in his neighborhood.
“This area has always been safe,” he said. “It’s God’s country here.”
The MS-13 gang, also known as Mara Salvatrucha, originated in Los Angeles and comprises Central Americans commonly from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, according to the federal Department of Justice.
Its main rival is the “18th Street” gang, also known as M-18 or Mara-18, which also is made up of those with ties to Central America, according to the department.
WITH CYNDI MURRAY