Police did not return calls seeking comment, but one of the victims alleges that the arrested approached a group of eight boys of the same age from a local Catholic school and robbed one at knifepoint in Frontera Park. The victim said he and his friends were sitting beneath the basketball hoops when a group of 15 to 20 boys walked through the park’s 69th Street entrance.
“They came into the park and walked right over to us,” said the teenage victim, who asked that his name be withheld for fear of retribution. “They weren’t going there to play basketball, they wanted to start a fight.”
Two boys were clearly leading the pack, one wearing a gray sweatshirt with the hood on, the other wearing a black sweatshirt with the hood up and a purple and black bandana covering his face, so that only his eyes were visible.
The aggressors started yelling the acronyms “DGK,” which the victim believes stands for Dirty Glendale Kids, but it is unclear whether the victims were mistaken for those groups or if those are gangs that the aggressors belong to.
The smaller group scattered; the victim said one of his friends was pushed up against a fence with a knife pointed at his stomach and told that if he tried to leave, he would be killed. He said another boy was holding a knife, though another member of the victimized group said he saw four knives, about eight inches long. The friend was robbed of the $10 to $12 he had on him and released.
“We were really, really scared,” said the victim. “We didn’t know what was going on or what was going to happen.”
He and his friend ran across the Horace Harding Expressway against the light in an attempt to flee, trying to get cars to stop. When nobody did, they kept running and coincidentally crossed paths with the victim’s father, who was just turning onto Grand Avenue. They jumped into the backseat and flagged down a police car parked in front of a nearby Duane Reade.
They returned to the park, where a man who had seen the whole thing informed officers that one boy had taken off his bandana. A group of four boys was eventually nabbed in front of Fame Diner.
The victim’s father is convinced that his son and friends were targeted by the main aggressors, who were described as two black boys and two Hispanic boys, because they are white.
“They were yelling what sounds like gang names and calling them white,” said the father. “This is a hate crime.”
The day after the arrests, an I.S. 73 student agreed to speak about their schoolmates on condition of anonymity. The student insisted that two of the boys are innocent and were collared only because they were with the wrong people at the wrong time.
The student said the knives were disposed of under a car. Asked if she fears her knife-wielding acquaintances, she said, “I would be more scared if they were serious, but they’re all talk. They’re wanna-be gangsters.”
The student said she had seen the boys back in school that day. Nobody from the I.S. 73 administration could be reached for comment.
The witness was frustrated to learn that apparently no disciplinary measures were taken against the accused.
“They should’ve been at least suspended from school,” said the witness. “You can’t just be going to the park after school and starting trouble. It can’t just be okay afterwards.”
Michael Mertyris was hanging out with some buddies in front of the OTB next door to the diner when he noticed two boys about 13 or 14 years old walking by.
“When I saw the squad car coming up and making the turn, I knew they were going to grab these two kids for something,” he said. “It turned out four of them got arrested.”
He scoffed when someone suggested that maybe the cops should have gone easy on the boys because they’re just kids.
“They start as kids,” said Mertyris, “and then they become adults. Come on, I was there.”