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2 charged with murder in Hempstead slaying

Federal prosecutors Thursday charged two gang members with the 2008 daylight murder on a handball court at Hempstead High School of a well-respected student, who was not a gang member.

David Valle and Louis Ruiz, described as lieutenants in the MS-13 street gang's Hempstead clique, or chapter, were indicted Thursday at the federal courthouse in Central Islip in the murder of Michael Alguera, then 15, according to court papers filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Durham.

The arrests followed a three-year investigation by the FBI and Nassau County homicide detectives, which concluded that Alguera was accidentally caught up in gang rivalry, according to officials.

"He was not a gang member. . . . He was an innocent child. What a way to lose his life," said Det. Lt. John Azzata, of the Nassau County police homicide squad. "It's something that every parent has to feel" concerned about when they send their kids to school, he added.

Valle and Ruiz had come to Hempstead High School in the afternoon along with half a dozen other MS-13 members, seeking revenge against members of the rival SWP gang, which supposedly had stolen the blue-and-white "flag" or bandanna of a student MS-13 member, according to sources familiar with the case.

Wearing hoodies and bandannas over their faces to conceal their identities, they went to the handball court because, in the way the rival gangs had divided the school's grounds, it was considered SWP territory, the sources said.

They lined Alguera and two of his handball playing friends up with their faces to the wall, searching for red-and-black SWP bandannas, and when they didn't find any, they robbed the handball players of their cellphones and an MP-3 player, the sources said.

As the MS-13 members were leaving, Alguera turned away from the wall, and was stabbed once, fatally, in the stomach, the sources said. Officials do not know why he was stabbed, the sources said.

Alguera was a devoted handball player and, in his honor, family, friends and officials raised $28,000 to build a new handball court in 2010 on the school grounds in place of the dilapidated court on which he used to play.

Valle and Ruiz have been imprisoned since April 2010 on federal charges, including slayings of rival gang members.

When reached by telephone, Alguera's father, Oscar, who lives in Uniondale, would only say, "I am glad they caught them."

Alguera's mother and older brothers, who now live in Florida, could not be reached for comment. But Azzata said one of his squad members had spoken to the family earlier in the day, and they were described as "ecstatic" at the news.

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