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November 3, 2000

Search is Over

Second suspect surrenders, to face charges in bias attack

Staff Writer

The second of two suspects in the Sept. 17 beating of two Mexican immigrant laborers lured to an abandoned warehouse in Shirley and brutally attacked turned himself in to the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office yesterday.

Christopher Slavin, 29, of 182 Union Ave. in Holbrook was accompanied by his attorney, Robert Del Col, when he surrendered in Riverhead. He was ordered held overnight and is scheduled for arraignment on attempted murder charges today at First District Court in Central Islip.

Suffolk Police Commissioner John Gallagher said as many as 20 investigators had worked on tracking Slavin, who, along with Ryan Wagner of Maspeth, Queens, is accused of luring the migrants from Farmingville with the promise of work, attacking them from behind with shovels, a post-hole digger and a knife.

Gallagher said Slavin may have fled as far as Pennsylvania before returning to surrender. "We were aware that we were getting close to him, and in turn, he was aware that we were getting close to him," Gallagher said. "I think that must have had some bearing on him seeking legal counsel."

Police so far have not named the victims -- one is 28, the other is 19 -- saying they did not want to jeopardize their safety. The 28-year-old victim returned to his home village of Hildalgo, Mexico, soon after the attack. The 19-year-old victim continues to live in the area. Neither could be reached last night for comment.

The attack, which police quickly characterized as a hate crime, has been the most violent manifestation yet of tensions that have surrounded the arrival in Farmingville of scores of Mexican laborers seeking short-term jobs from local contractors.

Wagner, 19, surrendered three weeks after the attack. He was arraigned Oct. 11, and charged with two counts of second degree attempted murder and two counts of second degree aggravated harassment. Suffolk County District Court Judge Joan Genchi ordered him held without bail in Central Islip. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of up to 50 years.

Slavin's attorney, Del Col, could not be reached last night for comment.

A neighbor of Slavin's, who would identify himself only as Ivan, said Slavin was already living there when he moved in three years ago. He said a family of Mexicans living in a house near Slavin had several loud parties, the last one shortly before the attack.

"They had some loud parties and a lot of people got upset," Ivan said. "I guess he got more upset than most."

But Gallagher said, "I believe we have a strong case based on the admissions Mr. Wagner made. We have someone putting them at the scene. Wagner is saying they were both there, so that makes a pretty strong case."

Rev. Allan Ramirez, pastor of the Brookville Reformed Church, who has frequently spoken in support of the victims, praised the arrest, but said he is concerned that prosecutors bring the case to trial quickly.

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