Two men were charged with hate crime assault Tuesday after they forced their way past security officers at William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach and attacked a student while yelling anti-gay epithets, police and school officials said.
Nashon Minter, 19, and Justin Higgins, 21, both of 115 Meadowmere Ave., Mastic, rushed past guards stationed at the entrance to the Mastic Beach Road high school at 9:45 a.m., police said.
Once inside, they chased a 19-year-old male student down a hallway, police said. When they caught up with the victim, police said, Minter and Higgins punched and kicked him while making anti-gay epithets until school security officers were able to stop the attack.
"Security at William Floyd is very tight," said Det. Sgt. Robert Reecks. "But it appears they were able to force their way inside."
Minter and Higgins were held by security officers until Suffolk police officers arrived, Reecks said. The victim was taken to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center in East Patchogue for treatment. The most serious injury was to one of his eyes, police said.
Additional information concerning his condition was not available Tuesday. In an e-mailed statement, James Montaldo, a spokesman for the William Floyd School District, said the two suspects were not students at the high school and "rushed past guards" at a campus security checkpoint.
"The William Floyd School District does not tolerate violence or hate crimes of any kind and is confident that the police will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident," Montaldo said in the statement.
Minter and Higgins had a weeklong dispute with the student, which led to the attack at the high school, police said. "This individual was clearly targeted by these two defendants," Reecks said. Because of the bias nature of the attack, the seriousness of the injury, and because it happened in a school, the charge against both men is a Class C felony, said Reecks, commanding officer of the Hate Crimes Unit. That level felony is punishable upon conviction by up to 15 years' imprisonment.
Minter and Higgins were to be arraigned Wednesday in First District Court, Central Islip.