Yesterday, the police announced that the eighth suspect in the brutal anti-gay attacks in the Bronx was arrested and released a photograph of the ninth and final suspect, Ruddy Vargas-Perez. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said during a press conference, "The seven individuals that we have in custody initially, there’s an eighth one now, have made statements, video confessions or statements concerning their acts involving this case, but I wouldn’t characterize it as remorse." In fact, the suspects, accused of harrowing acts of torture, are reportedly claiming they were intimidated into participating!

The Daily News reports, "Police sources said several members of the Latin King Goonies told detectives they would have been slashed and beaten if they did not help torment the defenseless victims. The threats were allegedly made by ringleader Ildefonso (Cheto) Mendez, who orchestrated the homophobic assaults after learning that a 17-year-old gang recruit was gay. That recruit was made to watch as they sodomized his older boyfriend with a miniature baseball bat - and the teen was then forced to burn his lover with cigarettes. The gangbangers sodomized the third victim, also 17, with the wooden handle of a toilet plunger." The News adds, "Some of the suspects shaved their heads before they were arrested in hopes of altering their appearances and avoid identification by witnesses, police sources said."

The NY Times visited the neighborhood where the victims and suspects lived and found that while the 30-year-old victim, "a gay 30-year-old Hispanic immigrant known in his Bronx neighborhood as 'la Reina,” Spanish for “the Queen,'" was seen as helpful and kind, Mendez was "known on his block as a stocky 23-year-old thug with tattoos all over his arms and a pit bull at his side, a marijuana dealer who would hang out on a fire escape and would put teenagers to work selling drugs. He had previous arrests for gun possession and robbery and, as a neighbor put it, 'looked like trouble.'"

In addition to the attacks on the two gay teens and 30-year-old, the 30-year-old's brother was robbed during the Latin King Goonies' alleged reign of terror last week. The suspects beat up the brother and tied him up, in addition to stealing a 52" TV, $1000, and debit cards—a neighbor told the Post, "His face was covered in blue tape. There was tape on his eyes, over his mouth, only a little bit of his nose was uncovered, he couldn't breathe. He was crying. My grandmother was trying to cut off the tape. His wrists were tied so tight, there were holes from the twine. He was saying, 'Help me! Oh my God, call the cops!' "

The suspects in custody are Mendez; Elmer Confresi, 23, (who turned himself in yesterday); David Rivera, 21; Bryan Almonte, 17; Steven Caraballo, 17; Elin Brayon Cepeda, 16; Nelson Falu, 17; and Denis Peitars, 17. They all face charges of unlawful imprisonment, abduction, assault, robbery, menacing and sodomy—all as hate crimes. Mayor Bloomberg said, "Let me be clear to anyone who would contemplate targeting a fellow New Yorker like this: the greatest police department in the world will find you swiftly. You will be prosecuted to the full extent under the law, and you will go to jail for a very long time.”

But their relatives are skeptical their loved ones could be involved. Bryan Almonte's stepmother, who said her husband died three months ago, said, "Bryan is not a bad kid. If he was there, he didn’t do anything." Steven Caraballo's parents told the Times, "He told me nothing is going on in the streets. He’s in school. He never got involved in this kind of thing," while his 15-year-old "wife"—who is pregnant with their child—claims he's innocent, "He was with me that day. He was with me and he's a good guy." And Elin Cepeda's mother told the Times that her son was interested in being a cop, "I’m a realist. It’s not that my son is a saint. But I doubt he would do that."