At a press conference Monday night in Montauk witnesses to what the police have described as a hate crime confirmed that racial slurs were used by Mark Dombrowski as he beat Luis Ochoa an immigrant from Colombia. Both men are Montauk residents.
On April 18 Luis Ochoa, a eucharistic minister at Montauk's St. Teresa Church and leader of the Latino support group SoLA , reported being beaten by Mark Dombrowski a former New York City firefighter. Ochoa and others said Dombrowski uttered several racial epithets as he attacked Ochoa. After a week long investigation the East Hampton Town Police charged Dombrowski with third degree assault as a hate crime.
Since that time in letters to the editor and an interview in local papers Dombrowski denied beating Ochoa and he denied using racial slurs. He said that Ochoa had picked up a rock in order to to attack him. He spoke of being persecuted.
In response to the denials Ochoa and five witnesses told their stories onMonday evening in Montauk.
On April 18 a group of church members gathered for a choir practice at one member's home. Ochoa arrived by car after being nearly forced off the road by Mr. Dombrowski who followed and attacked him. The witnesses said that Ochoa was punched in the mouth, knocked to the ground and kicked in the head by the attacker who used racial slurs while hitting him. They said that Ochoa did NOT pick up a rock to throw at his assailant.
Two witnesses said they tried to stop the attacker. One of these, Luis Quichimbo, who is about 5 feet tall said he jumped in between the other men, even though he was fearful. Another of the witnesses pulled the attacker off Ochoa. They said that after the attack the victim shook so much he could not hold a glass of water brought by a witness.
A court date in the assault case is set for July 21 in East Hampton. If convicted Dombrowski could face up to 4 years in jail.
While some have called for dropping the charges in an effort to heal the community, Michael O'Neill, chairman of the East Hampton Anti-Bias Task Force, said "Hate crime hurts and this arrest shows the value of hate crime law to reduce harm against minorities some people might not like. The whole community sees clearly that it is not permissible to act out that dislike."