Jose Lopez

Nassau County Police

Man Faces Murder Charge In MS-13 Killing On Long Island

June 15, 2018 - 3:15 pm

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (WCBS 880/AP) -- A suspect has been arrested in the death of a Long Island teenager who police identified as a victim of the violent MS-13 gang.

Jose Lopez, 19. was arraigned on a murder charge Friday in the killing of his friend, 19-year-old Josue Amaya Leonor.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at the time there was "no doubt'' the 19-year-old was a victim of MS-13.

Police Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said Leonor had switched schools and was seen associating with people considered to be enemies of MS-13.

"At that time they marked him as a victim of future murder," Fitzpatrick said. "Some of these former friends lured him into the woods on the night of his death with the idea that they were going to smoke marijuana. Once they got into the woods they attacked him and killed him there."

Leonor's body was found in a wooded area of the Roosevelt Preserve on May 30, two years after he was reported missing. Fitzpatrick said a machete was used in the killing.

Leonor had been friends with two other young men who were also killed by MS-13 gang members, police said.

Police did not say if Lopez was a member of the gang. 

Lopez pleaded not guilty and is being held without bail.

Five or six other people were involve din Leonor's death, Fitzpatrick said.

MS-13 is believed to be behind 25 killings on Long Island in the past two years and has become a prime target of President Donald Trump's administration.