Rep. Peter King will hold congressional hearings in Central Islip on gang violence and MS-13’s role, he told anxious community members at a meeting in the hamlet Tuesday night — less than a week after the bodies of four young men were found in a nearby park.
King (R-Seaford) spoke during a meeting of the Central Islip Coalition of Good Neighbors, a monthly gathering to discuss community issues.
The meetings usually attract a crowd of about 20 but that number swelled Tuesday night to include law enforcement and elected officials after the April 12th discovery of the four bodies at a Central Islip park.
“I can tell you tonight as the chairman of the subcommittee on counterterrorism and intelligence I intend to have a field hearing in Central Islip in the next 4 to 6 weeks,” King said.
King attended the event at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Carleton Avenue along with Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk Police Commissioner Timothy Sini.
Bellone told the gathering that “the people who committed these savage murders will be brought to justice.”
Authorities have said they believe the slayings may be the work of the ruthless MS-13 street gang that is connected to similar recent killings of teenagers in the Brentwood area.
Evelyn Rodiguez, whose daughter Kayla Cuevas, 16, and the girl’s best friend, Nisa Mickens, 15, were killed in September, allegedly by MS-13 members, attended Tuesday night’s meeting and said she remained confident police will catch those behind the latest slayings. Suffolk police have charged several MS-13 gang members in connection with the girls’ deaths as well as other killings.
“I know what it is like to lose a child,” she said. “Just have faith that law enforcement will catch these individuals.”
Police have said that the bodies of Justin Llivicura, 16, of East Patchogue, Jorge Tigre, 18, of Bellport — both Bellport High School students — as well as Jefferson Villalobos, 18, of Pompano Beach, Florida, and Michael Lopez Banegas, 20, of Brentwood, were found in the park.
Since the grisly discovery, residents of Central Islip and nearby Brentwood have again mourned the loss of young lives to gang violence while renewing demands that the killers be caught.
Sini told those in attendance that Suffolk investigators won’t stop until they find those responsible for the latest deaths and eliminate MS-13 from the community.
“Our goal is to solve these murders as quickly as possible and to eradicate this gang,” Sini said. “I encourage all of you, if you know someone or if you have information, please provide it to law enforcement.”
Sini also reminded the audience of the $25,000 reward for help catching whoever killed the four.
“I guarantee you there is probably somebody in this room that has information about these murders. I know there is.” He said. “The police will protect those who provide info, including but not limited to fed witness protection program.
King said he plans to bring the issue to the House floor in the coming weeks.
“MS-13 has to be crushed,” King said, “has to be defeated, has to be destroyed. The streets of Central Islip have to be made safe again.”