No. 6 Story of the Year: Series of attacks near downtown

12/27/2014 8:00 AM |
After several attacks in the downtown Riverhead area this year — most of which have targeted Hispanic males — the town will revive its dormant Anti-Bias Task Force, a group 'meant to be a proactive agency in promoting tolerance and understanding.' (Credit: Carrie Miller)

After several attacks in the downtown Riverhead area this year — most of which have targeted Hispanic males — the town will revive its dormant Anti-Bias Task Force, a group ‘meant to be a proactive agency in promoting tolerance and understanding.’ (Credit: Paul Squire)

A rash of more than a dozen assaults and robberies erupted near downtown Riverhead this year, beginning in January and lasting into the fall.

While arrests have been made in many of the attacks, including the brutal mugging of a disabled veteran and an incident where a man was shot twice in the back, some crimes have gone unsolved.

The attacks — most of which targeted Hispanic men — largely occurred at night in the area around Railroad Avenue. The string of incidents inspired the town to revive its Anti-Bias Task Force, which had laid dormant for several years.

The first attacks occurred in late January, when an unidentified woman and a man, later identified as 21-year-old Monwell Wright, beat someone with a rock during an attempted robbery.

Mr. Wright pleaded guilty to felony charges and served 180 days in jail, but he was arrested again in August for an attack against a Riverhead veteran who was knocked from his wheelchair and robbed by a group of people.

Other assaults included the beating of a homeless man who was robbed of $400 near the railroad tracks in April and a July beating on Osborne Avenue. An October shooting that left one man injured was later connected to a Southold Town gang shooting; one of the five men charged in that incident, alleged MS-13 gang member Albino Dejesus Medina, has been arrested by Riverhead police.

While police and town officials say it doesn’t appear Hispanic men were targeted because of their race, the string of assaults did lead some in town to seek better ties with Spanish-speaking communities.

Top 10 stories of 2014

No. 10: Historic district is history

No. 9: A near-record year for snowfall

No. 8: After 12 years, Bishop is bounced

No. 7: Highest-paid L.I. school employee

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