Police are investigating the motives behind a violent crime spree that has resulted in three Hispanic males being attacked in the city, with one fighting for his life at Westchester Medical Center as of Monday afternoon after being attacked Friday night on Orchard Street, according to Peekskill Chief of Police Eric Johansen.
“We were called to the scene of an assault on Orchard Street at about 11:20 p.m., where a victim was assaulted by three or four males who struck with a blunt object, possibly a baseball bat,” Johansen told The Peekskill Post Monday morning. “A second subject was also assaulted in that incident. Both victims were Hispanic males. The victim struck by what we believe could have been a bat was critically injured and transported to Westchester Medical Center with a skull fracture, broken wrist, broken hand and a broken orbital eye socket. He has undergone surgery. As of yesterday he was in critical but stable condition.”
The second victim in the attack sustained relatively minor injuries and was treated by Peekskill EMS, according to Johansen, who said that as detectives—who have “significant leads”—were investigating the Friday incident, a second violent incident took place around 2 a.m. Sunday.
“Sunday’s crime had a similar MO to what took place on Friday, when another Hispanic male was assaulted and robbed on South Street,” Johansen said. “Three subjects were subsequently arrested in that incident by patrol officers who responded to the scene and who were provided with descriptions of the suspects, who were located a short distance away from the crime. They were taken into custody after having been positively identified.”
The arrested suspects are Peekskill residents Akeem Joseph, 20, Essa McGougain, 21, and Ishamail McGougain, 21. All three have been charged with felony robbery in the second degree and felony assault in the second degree. Joseph, who has an open case against him, was also charged with domestic violence.
Johansen said that property (a wallet and other personal items) taken in the commission of that robbery—in which no weapons appear to have been used—was recovered on the person of one of the three suspects.
“At this point, detectives continue to piece together the incident from Friday night as well as another robbery that occurred a week earlier,” Johansen said. “The three suspects arrested for Sunday’s robbery remain suspects in those two crimes.”
Johansen underscored the seriousness of the crimes the suspects have been charged with, and noted that they may well be charged in one of both of the other aforementioned crimes.
“These individuals are facing very serious charges that could be upgraded in the event that the victim in this case takes a turn for the worse,” he said. “The victim underwent surgery for a head injury and while he is stable at the moment, it has been my experience that he is not out of the woods. We certainly wish for his speedy recovery and hope that it turns out for the better but recognize that is not always he case here.”
Though they have been charged with felonies stemming from Sunday’s robbery and are suspects in other crimes—including Friday’s violent attack—Essa and Ishamail Mcgougain were released on their own recognizance by Peekskill City Judge Melissa Loehr and Joseph was held on $2,000 bail due to his domestic violence charge, according to the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office. The DA had asked that Joseph be held on $30,000 bail and that each of the Mcgougains be held on $25,000 bail.
While the suspects are black males and the victims are Hispanic males, Johansen said his department believes the motives are robbery rather than bias or hate related.
“Friday night’s victim described it as an unprovoked attack,” said the chief. “There is some indication that robbery may have been the motive, but that is unknown at this point. We are still trying to put that together. We are always cognizant of the statutes that enhance criminal activity if they are biased and that is something that is investigated. At this point, these do not appear to be hate-driven crimes but more than likely an opportunity driven crime. I want to make it clear that the victims did not to precipitate these attacks. Why they were targeted is still part of the investigation.”
Johansen attributes the fact that nothing was taken from Friday night’s victims to the quick action of witnesses, who immediately called police. He also said that in addition to the three suspects arrested, a fourth suspect may also be involved.