LAKE RONKONKOMA, N.Y. — When Debora Perez, a school bus driver in Suffolk County, went on a cruise last August, her only son John asked if he could have several friends over. His mom said yes.
Unfortunately, someone posted on social media that the gathering on Benoni Avenue in Lake Ronkonkoma was an “open house.”
“My son was asking people to please leave the property,” Perez said.
There was an incident, in the middle of the street, that Perez’s son said he didn’t know about.
“All I know is some kid got beaten up and it had nothing to do with us,” John, now 20, said.
What happened more than two hours later on Aug. 5, 2017, was captured on eight surveillance cameras that Perez has affixed to her single-family home. John, then 19, was in the backyard, cleaning up trash. John is bi-racial and Perez said her family is the only family of color on the street.
“These men just rushed in and attacked us,” John told PIX11. “Crowbars. One had a really big monkey wrench.
“The first guy, in the front, said, ‘Who’s the tough guy who hit my son?’”
John said racial slurs were hurled his way.
The main suspect’s 16-year-old son had suffered a broken nose during an altercation with one guy on the street a couple of hours earlier.
But the teen’s father may have rushed to conclusions. He’s accused of rounding up a convoy of vehicles and men to confront John and his friend Dwight in the backyard.
Dwight, also a college student, ended up with a broken jaw and his mouth was wired shut for about six weeks.
The suspected beater’s ex-wife and a female relative were allegedly standing on the corner, protecting the vehicles.
“They were look-outs,” Debora Perez said, “the same as when you rob a bank. You’re running away with a bag of money and you jump in the car and you drive away with a getaway driver.”
Perez said she was determined to find out who the suspects were.
She knew the name of the 16-year-old who had his nose broken during a dispute on the street. She looked him up on Facebook.
“And with his name, we looked up relatives, friends’ lists and from there, we just branched off," she said.
Perez and her son gave their findings to detectives at the Fourth Precinct in Suffolk County.
Anthony Nunziata Se. was arrested three weeks after the party. Another man, John Marino, was arrested on Valentine’s Day 2018.
Perez and her son are troubled the two women who drove vehicles to the scene and waited on the corner weren’t charged. They learned more about them on Facebook.
“There’s pictures of them with cops. There’s pictures of them with fire chiefs,” John said.
Debora Perez said she learned the mother of the 16-year-old, the woman who was waiting on the corner, is the daughter of a retired NYPD deputy Inspector.
“There’s seven people involved in this,” Perez said. “Where are the other five?”
“I think everyone should be held accountable for their actions.”
When PIX11 News asked Suffolk County Police for a statement, a spokesperson told us the District Attorney’s office would have to handle inquiries, since the criminal arraignments had already happened and the case is going to a grand jury.
PIX11 reached out to the District Attorney’s press office and left a message but did not receive a call back when we inquired about the case’s current status.