Witnesses, legal team lead police to 2 gang leaders suspected in slaying, so why are there no arrests?

CLAREMONT, The Bronx — A killer is still on the run after slaying a man in the parking lot of a McDonald's in the Bronx four years ago.

Information from witnesses, surveillance video and other evidence point to two local gang leaders being behind that crime, as well as others. Still, the two alleged killers remain at large despite detectives being shown where they live and socialize.

Why they have not been subdued is a mystery to a private investigator and a lawyer who are working with a man who was wrongly arrested for the crime. They came to PIX11 News to try to help them get answers.

The crime took place about 1:20 a.m. on Aug. 19, 2012. That time and date are imprinted on a surveillance video obtained from near the scene. The scene contains key information that could lead to the killers of Hansell Arias, 22, who was fatally stabbed in front of the Webster Avenue McDonald's. The video shows Arias literally running for his life past the camera. Seconds later, well off-camera, he's killed.

Meanwhile, the surveillance video, recorded by an automotive business more than a block away from the crime scene, shows another man standing on the sidewalk, holding a soft drink and talking with friends. The man is Enger Javier, now 26. Even though, as the video shows, he was more than a block away when the homicide took place, Javier ended up afoul of the law.

"I crossed the street here on Webster [Avenue]," Javier told PIX11 News in an interview at the scene, "and the cops arrested me. Then I spend two years in jail."

Police responding to the murder scene put Javier in custody. He didn't emerge from incarceration for two years. After his arrest, he was jailed on Rikers Island, pending trial, which never came.

During his two years in jail, Javier said, he was beaten during a riot and was otherwise abused. Five months of his time at Rikers was in solitary confinement.

"A lot of crazy stuff goes through your head, you know?" Javier said about being locked up in a cell alone. "A lot of people think about killing themselves in there."

It was only after two years in lockup that Javier's family was able to post his bail. Private detective Manuel Gomez was contracted by the Bronx District Attorney's Office to place an ankle bracelet on Javier and monitor him, pending trial.

"I saw from the beginning of the case there was a big red flag," Gomez said in an interview. "By the time I put [the] ankle bracelet on him, I was 95 percent sure this kid was innocent."

Gomez set out to prove that he was right. He tracked down the surveillance video that proved Javier's innocence, and showed it to Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. She quickly dropped charges against Javier.

Meanwhile, Gomez, the private investigator, set out to find the actual killers.

"I looked for all the people in the video," Gomez told PIX11 News, "and sure enough it was them."

Two men, well-known leaders of a local branch of an international gang, are seen on the surveillance video walking away from the scene. When Gomez, a former NYPD cop and Army Ranger intelligence officer, saw the men on the video, he then set out to find even more evidence.

He soon found a cellphone video on one of the gang leader's Facebook page. In that video, the man brags, in Spanish, about having killed someone.

"I gave [detectives] the video with the guy admitting to it," Gomez said, "being praised by a gang, saying 'I killed a guy already.'"

Specifically, Gomez said, he showed the cellphone video to homicide detectives at the 44th Precinct, who were handling the case. As it continued to be investigated, the private eye said, he learned more about what had happened during the first few days of the investigation that he said disturbed him.

"Two days [after Hansell Arias' murder], the victim's brother walked in to the precinct and told them a group of names that potentially were the murderers," Gomez said.

The people who witnesses had named were the same people seen chasing Arias in the surveillance video.

"I've brought them nine witnesses from the video," Gomez said in an interview. "I gave [detectives] the addresses, the apartments, even escorted homicide division to where it was, and they've still done nothing."

He said that as he kept investigating, what he found disturbed him more and more.

"I have video evidence of the murderers committing another murder in Manhattan," Gomez told PIX11 News.

The death of Mohamed Jalloh, 18, on June 20, 2010, was seen as a call to action by both Gomez and John Scola, an attorney with whom Gomez works closely. Scola is representing Enger Javier, who was wrongfully arrested and incarcerated in the Hansell Arias murder.

Scola said that he and Gomez were not only frustrated with the lack of an arrest in the Arias case, he also said that they had even more cause for concern in the Jalloh case as well.

"Two kids actually took a deal on that. One took 20 years, one took 15 years. And they still haven't turned over this evidence and they're sitting in jail for crimes they didn't commit."

Scola and Gomez said they've found witnesses from the Jalloh murder who've said that the same two gang leaders who killed Arias killed Jalloh. However, Scola said, the information has fallen on deaf ears.

"I mean, there's two men that we know of who are serial killers," said Scola, "who are very high ranking members of the gang in the Bronx and the gang is in the Bronx, Manhattan and Queens and they're on the loose."

The Hansell Arias case is being prosecuted by Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark. A spokesperson for the district attorney told PIX11 News that their office handed over evidence in the case to the Homicide Bureau of the NYPD. The police in turn made only one comment about their activity in the case.

It was a terse, five-word email to PIX11 News: "This remains an ongoing investigation," the NYPD said last month.

The department's brief comment contrasts with the police activity in the case since PIX11 News made them aware of this story. Within hours of our inquiry, Homicide Bureau detectives started interviewing the witnesses that Javier's private detective and lawyer had brought to them. The investigation had been dormant for months, until the inquiry from PIX11 News, according to Gomez and Scola.

However, that's not necessarily making things easier for Enger Javier, at least not until the actual killers are found, he said.

"If they see me out here right now," Javier said in the McDonald's parking lot, "a lot of things will happen. I worry about that, yeah."

He and his legal team said that Javier was taking a risk to his personal safety by showing back up at the scene of the crime. He's living out of state for his own protection until an arrest is made in the case for which he'd originally been charged. Javier said that living away from his family and community is a kind of an imprisonment of its own.

"You don't got that freedom to be where you were before," he said. "You've got to be careful. You've got to watch your back."

Part of the reason for that, according to Javier's investigator and attorney, is they have evidence and witnesses that indicate that the same two alleged gang leaders are behind at least two more murders. The legal team is asking that warrants be issued for the arrest of the men. For now, though, detectives are still amassing evidence.