Cops have arrested one of the multiple attackers who they say senselessly beat a gay man to death Christmas Eve in the Bronx, but the person they busted insists he had nothing to do with it.
Abu Conteh, 18, was arrested and slapped with gang assault and murder charges on December 31, one week after he and others allegedly attacked 60-year-old Juan Fresnada and his partner, 29-year-old Byron Caceres, when they left a McDonalds on Third Avenue near East 164th Street. The attackers pounced after the couple refused to turn over their belongings during a robbery attempt.
But Conteh, currently held at Rikers Island, told the Daily News he was actually with a separate group when he came across the beating as it was taking place. He said one of the attackers told him to pick up his jacket — so he did.
“I dunno what this guy could do,” Conteh told the Daily News. “He had just beat a man so I went and got it for him and gave it to him.”
Conteh and his friends went inside of a deli and he said cops saw surveillance footage from that moment and mixed him up with the others.
“That’s the surveillance shot they got,” he said. “That was before the attack happened. I’m there with my two friends and I don’t know the guy next to me. He was just going to the store too.”
The assailants punched and kicked Fresnada before hitting him with a steel garbage can, causing swelling to his brain. He was transported to Lincoln Hospital and died on December 27.
It is not clear how many suspects are at large — the NYPD described them as “several unidentified individuals” — but authorities have surveillance video footage showing a handful of people who they believe played a role in the case. Cops said the group ranges in age from teens to early 20s and fled westbound on East 165th Street after the attack.
It does not appear the attackers were motivated by the couple’s sexual orientation and the NYPD has not declared that the case is being investigated as a hate crime.
Fresnada left Cuba for New York in 1980, according to the Daily News, while Caceres moved to New York from Honduras in 2007. The pair met when they were both in a program for low-income gay men.
Anyone with information about the identity of the males is encouraged to call NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or in Spanish at 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted online at crime