Police on Friday were searching for gang members they believe attacked a man, leaving him to die on a Brentwood street — a killing that dealt another blow to a community still on edge from the gang-related slayings of four teenagers last month.
While there is “no connection at this time” between the violent attack on 34-year-old Dewann A.S. Stacks and the deaths of the Brentwood teens, the crime is considered to be gang-related, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini said Friday afternoon.
Stacks had been walking along American Boulevard south of Second Avenue late Thursday night when he was assaulted, police said.
He was found just before midnight, still alive, on the east side of the paved street abutting a wooded area, police said. Despite efforts to save him, Stacks died at the scene.
His family could not be reached for comment Friday.
Sini said police “do know” which gang is likely to be involved, but declined to say if they think it is MS-13 — a notoriously violent street gang believed to be involved in the slayings of Nisa Mickens, 15, and Kayla Cuevas, 16, best friends who were found beaten to death last month near Loretta Park Elementary School, less than two miles from where Stacks was found.
Neighbors on the quiet street with homes shaded by an abundance of large trees felt a new shudder of fear and anxiety on Friday as news of Stacks’ death spread.
Marianela Lozano, 46, who lives in a house next to the crime scene, said her daughter’s boyfriend left the house to walk to a nearby coffee shop around 11:30 p.m. Thursday when he saw Stacks lying on the ground.
“He came running back to the house and said he saw a body in the street. I ran out to the street and saw a man lying there,” Lozano said. “He was still alive, breathing heavily. But he couldn’t talk. He was bleeding very hard.”
“He had big cuts all over his face, his mouth, his eyes. It was horrible,” said Lozano, a homemaker who lives with her husband and three grown children in their 20s.
“I’m a Christian, so I just kept talking to him for about five minutes, trying to give him words of salvation,” Lozano said. “But he wasn’t able to speak at all. He just breathed heavily one last time, so hard that his shoulders came off the ground. But then he was gone.”
Police have increased patrols in Brentwood since they began investigating the teenagers’ deaths last month.
Mickens’ body was found Sept. 13 by a passing motorist; Cuevas’ body was found in a nearby wooded area the next day. The Brentwood teens were victims of a “brutal attack” and suffered blunt-force trauma, police said.
Cuevas had a dispute in school with students believed to be members of the MS-13 street gang, and police are investigating whether that played a role in the killings, a law-enforcement source has said.
Days later, on Sept. 16, the remains of Brentwood resident Oscar Acosta, 19, also a student at the Ross Center, were found in an industrial location east of Sagtikos Parkway. The skeletal remains of Miguel García Morán, 15, of Brentwood, a student at Brentwood High School’s Sonderling Center, were found in the same area on Sept. 21.
The deaths of Acosta and García Morán — who both were reported missing months earlier — were classified as homicides. Sini has said the two also were assaulted.
Elizabeth Climaco, 15, a student at the Ross Center, walked out of her home Friday morning accompanied by her father, across the street from where Stacks was found. She kept her head down as she spoke softly of her unease.
“It’s scary. You hear about it on the news, it happened to girls in my school, but then it happened on my street,” she said. “You have to be careful now even when you just want to step out of your house.”
With Ellen Yan