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Cops eye hate crime in LI teen's death

Facebook photo of Anthony Collao.

Facebook photo of Anthony Collao. Credit: Facebook

As a Bethpage family mourns, officials are trying to determine if the beating death of an 18-year-old was a hate crime.

Anthony Collao, a graduate of Island Trees High School in Levittown, was chased down early Saturday as he left a party on 90th Street in Woodhaven, police said.

The attackers had crashed the birthday bash earlier, shouting anti-gay slurs, police said. Police said that he attended the party with a girlfriend.

Police said the victim was punched, kicked and beaten. One of the attackers was armed with a metal bat and another wielded a cane, according to the criminal complaint.

Collao died late Monday after being taken off life support at Jamaica Hospital. The five suspects currently face manslaughter and assault charges.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said that due to the slurs, authorities are considering whether to classify the attack as a hate crime. "It had all the elements of a hate crime," Kelly told reporters.

According to police, the teenage defendants burst into the party -- held at an abandoned house and advertised on Facebook -- yelling anti-gay slurs, flashing gang signs and writing epithets on the walls.

Around 1 a.m., as Collao tried to leave, the same teens chased him down 90th Street. They caught up to Collao, threw him against a car and began assaulting him, police said.

A man who answered the door at the Collao family's home in Bethpage Wednesday could barely talk about the incident.

"No, no, I can't," the teary-eyed man said. "You have to understand."

A man who answered the phone at the home of relatives in Queens said in Spanish that the family was "in mourning." He declined further comment.

At Island Trees High, where Collao attended for three years, those who knew him were in shock.

"He was a very, very likable kid and the entire Island Trees community is saddened," said Principal Nicholas Grande. "In the end, I think we all hope for justice. No one deserved to go through something like this."

Grande said Collao was a "quiet, unassuming" student. He was not involved in many extracurricular activities because the family kept more ties in Queens where they had previously lived. Collao's sister attends the district's middle school.

"He had a great smile and I will always remember that about him," Grande said. "He certainly had many people here in his corner."

The incident worried David Kilmnick, chief executive of the Long Island Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Services Network. "It is disturbing and tragic, and I am disgusted by it," he said.

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