Nassau County police have arrested a Freeport teenager in connection with the murder last year of a Roosevelt teen who had attended Freeport High School. Authorities believe the killing was related to the El Salvadoran gang MS-13.
Police reported that Josue Figueroa-Velasquez, 18, of North Main Street, was taken into custody on Tuesday at around 10:30 a.m. and charged with second-degree murder. He was being held without bail, and was due back in court on June 1. He pleaded not guilty at his arraignment in First District Court on Wednesday.
According to officials, Figueroa-Velasquez was an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who was to be deported. He will turn 19 at the end of June.
According to police, the investigation into 16-year-old Angel Soler’s death was being conducted with Homeland Security Investigations, an arm of the federal Department of Homeland Security.
Figueroa-Velasquez’s arrest follows that of David Sosa Guevara, 26, of Wyandanch, and Victor Lopez, 29, of Roosevelt, also in connection with the killing. Guevara was also charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail.
According to the criminal complaint against Figueroa-Velasquez, filed in District Court on Tuesday, a fourth suspect remains at large.
Police found and identified Soler’s remains last October in a wooded area next to a residential neighborhood not far from the Southern State Parkway and the Baldwin-Roosevelt border. He was last seen July 21. According to police, he was hacked to death with machetes.
Figueroa-Velasquez’s arrest came only a week after President Trump came to Bethpage for a summit on MS-13 with police officials, elected leaders and anti-gang advocates, at which they discussed ways to eradicate the threat the gang poses. The visit, officials said, was intended as a show of support for local police.
In April, Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said that MS-13 had threatened officers working in the Hempstead area. The threats followed the extradition from Maryland to Nassau County of Miguel Angel Corea Diaz, known on the street as “the Reaper,” an MS-13 kingpin who is reportedly the gang’s highest-ranking member on the East Coast.
If “MS-13 wants to threaten a cop in this county, MS-13 is going to get an answer,” Ryder responded. “We will answer that threat, and we will answer it strongly.”
Three other teens are believed to have been killed by MS-13 over the past year or more. The body of 19-year-old Kerin Pineda, of Freeport, was found in the woods between Freeport and Merrick, near the Sunrise Highway, last November. He, too, was hacked to death with machetes, according to authorities. Javier Castillo, of Central Islip, was found in Cow Meadow Park, at the southern end of South Main Street in Freeport, last October. And the remains of Julio Cesar Gonzales-Espantzay, of Valley Stream, were discovered in the Massapequa Preserve, near Seaview and Ocean avenues, last March.