Three arrests made in Sunday Brooklyn Belt Parkway attack, another suspect questioned
Three men have been charged with assault and robbery, both of the charges carrying an enhanced penalty potential because police view them as hate crimes, in an attack on a 28-year-old gay man that began in a parking lot situated between the Belt Parkway and Plum Beach, near Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood.
Michael J. Sandy, in attempting to flee his assailants, ran into Belt Parkway traffic, where he continued to be pursued, but managed to break free, only to be hit by a car, whose driver then fled the scene.
As late as Tuesday evening, a spokeswoman for Brookdale University Hospital, where Sandy was taken, described his condition as “critical,” but as Gay City News went to press Wednesday evening, the hospital, at the family’s request, was no longer giving out any information on his status.
The man was on life support and a respirator, and sources separate from the hospital described Sandy’s condition as very grave, saying his family faces a life and death decision. Sandy’s 29th birthday falls on Thursday.
As of late Wednesday evening, police had filed charges against three of four suspects who had been interviewed beginning Tuesday evening at Brooklyn’s 61st Precinct. The three men, described by police as having “acted in concert,” all face the same charges—first-degree assault as a hate crime and first- and second-degree robbery, both also as hate crimes.
The three men, all Brooklynites, are John Fox, a 19-year-old white man, who lives at 2251 Knapp Street, Elya (Alex) Shurov, a 20-year-old white man, who lives at 3845 Shore Parkway, and Gary Timmins, a 16-year-old white man, who lives at 3118 Avenue W.
Sandy is an African American.
The usual police procedure for not naming arrestees who are minors was waived in the arrest of Timmins.
A fourth man, who has been interviewed by police, is still under investigation.
A police spokesman told Gay City News that the suspects were identified through inspection of Sandy’s computer and his cell phone. Witnesses said that one of the assailants lingered on the Belt even after Sandy was struck by the car, as though he were looking for something on the ground. Police later recovered Sandy’s cell phone on the pavement.
Sources told Gay City News that Sandy had chatted with at least two of the alleged assailants online and made a date to meet one of them prior to Sunday, only to have that engagement fall through. Sunday was the second effort at a meeting. Media reports have stated that Sandy met one of his alleged attackers at another location in Brooklyn and accompanied him to the Plum Beach parking lot where at least two others lay in wait, but a police source said the initial meeting was in the parking lot, shortly after 9 p.m.
Media reports have also stated that Sandy, who shared a Williamsburg apartment with three roommates, was told to bring enough cash so that he and the man he expected to meet could get a hotel room. Police sources confirm that they are operating on the assumption that the alleged attackers planned the rendezvous with the intention of robbing Sandy, and when that set-up became clear to the victim the attack and his attempted flight ensued.
Police are investigating whether any of the suspects have engaged in similar scams to rob gay men or anyone else. Plum Beach is widely known as a gay cruising area, but police say that no one else has reported any problems there in the recent past. Anyone who has had problems there is being encouraged to contact police.
Sandy worked at the Ikea store in Hicksville, Long Island and is an interior designer.
Fox is said to be a sophomore at the State University of New York Maritime College in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. NY1 News reported that his father was at the 61st Precinct Wednesday insisting that his son was neither a homophobe nor a racist, saying he had a black roommate.
Should Sandy not survive his injuries, the younger Fox as well as Shurov and Timmins, and perhaps the fourth suspect, will likely face murder charges.
Police currently have no leads on the hit-and-run driver whose car gave Sandy his most serious injuries.