At first, the cheerfully painted van idling next to a sign advertising a blood drive outside the Patchogue Village Hall last night meant little more to Irving Rosado than a chance to do a good deed as he joined a small line of people heading inside.
But when Rosado learned that the 41/2-hour-long drive was meant to commemorate the two-year anniversary of Marcelo Lucero's murder, the pint of blood he was about to donate meant that much more.
"It took me off guard," Rosado, 49, a Long Island Rail Road switch engineer said, about the 2008 case that earlier this year was prosecuted as a hate crime. "This is an evil world that we live in."
The blood drive was sponsored by the Long Island Immigrant Alliance and other community groups.
Two years ago, Lucero was virtually unknown - one of thousands of Latino immigrants who had moved to Suffolk County in recent years. That was before the Ecuadorean immigrant was attacked by seven Patchogue-area teenagers.
The seven teens charged in the attack are all in prison, with Jeffrey Conroy, 19, serving a 25-year sentence after being convicted earlier this year of first-degree manslaughter as a hate crime in the stabbing of Lucero and second-degree attempted assault as a hate crime in attacks on three other Hispanic men.
While Conroy's lawyers plan an appeal and lawyers representing Lucero's family prepare a civil lawsuit against the teens' families, Patchogue has been laboring to move beyond the incident that came to symbolize tensions surrounding Latino immigration on Long Island and the nation.
On Sunday, 250 held a vigil on the site near the Patchogue Long Island Rail Road station where Lucero and a friend were approached by the teens. The intersection, near where a patch of black paint still marks where Lucero's blood had spilled, has been renamed "Unity Place" by village officials. Inside the station, a tree also honors Lucero.
"We don't need to mark an 'X' on the spot where Marcelo Lucero was murdered because we know where it happened," Patchogue Mayor Paul Pontieri said. "This is about moving forward and how do we deal with tomorrow."
Along those lines, Pontieri said the village that is home to roughly 4,200 Latino immigrants has made strides during the past two years in better accommodating those residents.