The police say two teenagers have confessed to robbing, beating, and even killing various parkgoers late November. Belter Yovanni Gubara Rivera and Marco Polanco were arrested; 17 year old Rivera was charged with four counts of robbery and the murder of Ecuadoran immigrant Carloes Flores while 17 year old Polanco was charged with four counts of robbery and attempted murder.
Rivera, who was known as "Nyquil," since one punch from him could put someone out, was recently kicked out of a relative's home and had told the police he robbed people for money for food. Rivera ended up using a machete to kill Flores and dumped his body into Meadow Lake on December 4. The police say Flores, who was only carrying $20, ID and a Metrocard, was the only person to fight back.
The other startling brutal attack Rivera and Polanco made was on Jae Woo Park, a 36 year old engineering student working on his dissertation. Park was beaten into a coma on Christmas Day, and with his wife and child on vacation in South Korea, he was only recently identified. Rivera's face suffered burns when he set Park's car on fire, and the burned out car was a break in the case when the police traced it back to Park and found friends looking for him. Park is still in a coma.
Rivera and Polanco would target men who were walking alone. The NY Times reports, "After spotting a mark, they would follow him for awhile, creep up from behind, then try to knock him out." Additionally, nineteen year old Herman Gonzalez was charged with robbery and assault when the three beat and robbed a Chinese food delivery man on November 20.
You can read Queens DA Richard Brown's press release about the charges (PDF)- four crimes are described, but about 10 people were attacked during the time period. The police responded to news of the attacks by increasing park security (including putting Sky Watch, the mobile NYPD tower, up). Police Commissioner Kelly said, "Our detectives did an outstanding job. They had just the right prescription to capture 'Nyquil' and to return a sense of security to Flushing Meadow Park."
Photograph of Unisphere at Flushing Meadow Park from Triborough on Flickr