Queens residents [and members of Make the Road New York] held a vigil Thursday to remember a teenager beaten to death by attackers who thought he was gay.
Family, friends, and activists gathered in Woodhaven to remember Anthony Collao, 18.
Police say he was beaten to death with an iron pipe outside a Queens house party.
Investigators say the attackers — all aged 16 and 17 — crashed the party, flashed gang signs, yelled anti-gay slurs, and scrawled epithets on the walls.
Collao was not gay, but the teen hosting the party is.
"It’s really hard, really hard. You get a phone call your brother is in the hospital type thing you can’t imagine it," said the victim’s sister, Karen Collao.
"You never think something like this is gonna happen to a person like that, for nothing," said the victim’s friend, Sara Sekjery.
Family members say Collao loved helping out working at his family’s ice cream distribution company.
They also say he was close to his brother and two sisters and loved by everyone who knew him.
LGBT activists attended Thursday night’s vigil as well as Diego Sucuzhanay, whose brother was killed in a similar attack two years ago in Brooklyn.
"It’s unacceptable behavior, we must keep fighting we must speak out. This shouldn’t be happening," said Sucuzhanay. "We don’t want any more victims and if there are more victims were are going to keep fighting."
"Because the party was associated as a gay party he was a victim of homophobia. So we’re here to stand with our community and out allies because when one of us is targeted everybody is targeted," said Ejeris Dixon of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.
All five suspects who were arrested face manslaughter and gang assault charges.
The Queens district attorney’s office is investigating the attack as a hate crime.
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