Cops Catch One UES Serial Gay Basher
The NYPD has arrested a 19 year-old man who has admitted taking part in the recent spree of gay bashings in Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Driton Nicaj, 19, is accused of two alleged attacks on gay men - and allegedly admitted to police he was on the scene when a third man was assaulted. He was charged with robbery and aggravated harassment, both as hate crimes, said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. Cops said Nicaj, an Albanian immigrant, was part of a roving pack of thugs who beat and robbed gay men over the last few weeks. "The investigation is going forward," Kelly said. "We're looking for other people involved in these assaults."Nicaj has prior drunk driving and drug arrests in Pennsylvania. Police continue to seek his accomplices.
The first attack happened May 31 in Carl Schurz Park near Gracie Mansion when at least four other men surrounded two gay men and robbed them. The gang struck again June 27, accosting Boston resident Joseph Holladay at E. 81st St. just after 4 a.m. The 36-year-old victim was pistol-whipped and robbed of his wallet, glasses and a Movado watch, said NYPD chief spokesman Paul Browne. Nicaj admitted to witnessing Holladay's attack but claims he didn't participate, police said. The next day, Michael Doane, 40, was pummeled on Second Ave. near 84th St. A witness walking his dog saw two men kicking Doane in the head, Browne said. Doane, who lives on the Upper East Side, suffered two skull fractures and a broken nose and his iPod was stolen, Browne said. Nicaj, who was captured on security cameras, confessed to beating and robbing Doane, police said.