Five people, including a 13-year-old girl, have been arrested in connection with the suspected gang killing of a man in a Queens state park last week, a slaying investigators believe is related to a homicide of another teen whose body was discovered in Lawrence, officials said Sunday.
Those arrested in connection with the Dec. 16 killing of Ian Michael Cruz, 23, in Bayswater Point State Park in Queens range in age from 13 to 22 and were all living at the same address on Nameoke Street in Far Rockaway, according to the NYPD.
A high-ranked city law enforcement official said Cruz was possibly a member of the 18th Street gang, a group prominent among some Central American immigrants. He was allegedly killed by rival MS-13 gang members who are believed to have lured him to the park where he was shot several times, said the official. He was found clad only in his underwear and socks.
Police in the city suspect that the 13-year-old female, whose name was not being released, lured Cruz to the park after she linked up with him online with the promise of a sexual rendezvous, the official said. The same promise of sexual contact also is believed to have been used to entice Harold B. Sermeno, 17, to his death behind the Five Towns Community Center in Lawrence, where he was found shot to death on Dec. 18, the official said.
In the Queens case, the NYPD and the Queens district attorney's office identified two of the suspects. Carlos Guerra, 18, and Jonathan Sanchez, 22, face charges of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Two younger suspects, a 15-year-old boy and the 13-year-old girl, also face charges of second-degree murder and criminal possession of a weapon. The name of the 15-year-old suspect was not released by police.
A fifth suspect, Elmer Guttierez, 18, faces a charge of criminal possession of a weapon, officials noted in court papers.
According to a criminal court complaint, the defendants in the Queens case made admissions that investigators with the Queens South homicide command of the NYPD used to build the case.
It was unclear Sunday what Nassau law enforcement officials would be doing to build their own prosecution in the Sermeno slaying. Sermeno was believed to have been a member of the Latin Kings gang, the official said.
A spokeswoman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Guttierez was granted a $500,000 bail, while all of the other defendants were ordered held without bail. Additional court appearances are scheduled for January.
Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun of the Nassau police said the county's homicide squad "is aware of the Queens case and has been in constant communication with the NYPD" but would not comment further.