Oceanside, NY – Police have arrested seven more suspects in connection with the stabbing death of 16-year-old Khaseen Morris.
“They were all active participants in the attack, physically hitting and throwing him to the ground,” Nassau County Homicide Detective Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick said at a news conference on Saturday, according to Newsday.
“Each one of them had an active role. They came with the intention to seriously hurt him. Khaseen got killed as a result,” Lt. Fitzpatrick explained.
Dozens of teens pulled out their cell phones to record the boy being stabbed during a fight over a girl on Sept. 16.
Nassau County police estimated that between 50 and 70 people gathered to watch and record the deadly brawl – but not one of them tried to stop it, FOX News reported.
Some of the teens later uploaded the footage to social media, according to police.
Morris was stabbed once in the chest during the altercation. He was rushed to a local hospital, where he later died.
A 17-year-old boy suffered a broken arm and a head injury after he was kicked and punched during the same attack, WCBS reported.
“Kids stood there and didn’t help Khaseen,” Lt. Fitzpatrick said, according to FOX News. “They’d rather video. They videoed his death instead of helping him.”
Lt. Fitzpatrick said that police have viewed footage from the scene, and said that 18-year-old Tyler Flach was “absolutely” the person who fatally stabbed Morris, Newsday reported.
Flach later pleaded not guilty to one count of second-degree murder in First District Court in Hempstead.
“This defendant and his group of friends went looking for 16-year-old Khaseen Morris,” Senior Nassau Assistant District Attorney Ania Pulaski told the court, according to Newsday. “This defendant attacked Mr. Morris, stabbed him in the chest…piercing his heart.”
On Saturday morning, as Morris’ family was preparing for his funeral, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran announced that police had arrested seven more suspects, KTLA reported.
The group was accused of attacking Morris and some of his friends as they were standing in front of a strip mall near Oceanside High School, Lt. Fitzpatrick said, according to CNN.
Sean Merritt, 17, Taj Woodruff, 17, Javonte Neals, 18, Marquis Stephens, 18, Haakim Mechan, 19, and two 16-yer-old males were all charged with second-degree gang assault.
The suspects are not known to be members of any street gangs, and additional charges may be forthcoming, Lt. Fitzpatrick told KTLA.
It was unclear whether or not the minors will be charged as adults.
Nassau County Assistant District Attorney Jared Rosenblatt said that Stephens was the one who “body slammed” the second victim, breaking his arm, Newsday reported.
Stephens’ attorney, Will Kephart, argued that his client is a college athlete and claimed he “had nothing to do with the stabbing and death of Mr. Morris,” according to Newsday.
Kephart claimed that Stephens had done “nothing more” than participate in a fistfight, and that Flach was the one who “took it to another level.”
Mechan has been accused of kicking the second victim “square in the head,” which knocked him unconscious, Rosenblatt said.
Lawrence Carra, who is representing Neals, noted that his client surrendered to police voluntarily, Newsday reported.
Carra told the court that Neals was not involved in the stabbing itself.
Merritt’s attorney, Dennis Lemke, had a similar explanation for his client’s involvement.
“Fights happen all the time. The problem is when someone brings a knife,” Lemke said, according to Newsday. “This was a tragic example and decisions were made. It’s a tragedy a young man lost his life. My client didn’t have anything at all to do with his death.”
Woodruff’s attorney, Donald Rollock, described his client as a “good kid” whose involvement in the attack was “very minor.”
Rollock alleged that Flach “had a different intent than the others” involved in the attack.
“There was a mutual fight going on and they were just as involved,” Rollock argued. “I’m not sure how you can pick that one side is wrong and the other side is right.”
Flach also has two other cases pending against him for prior arrests, according to Newsday.
On May 23, he was arrested in connection with a road-rage incident, and was charged with third-degree assault.
He was apprehended again on Sept.8, and was charged with criminal possession of a controlled substance.
“Tyler strongly maintains his innocence and he took the responsible step of self-surrendering to eventually clear his name,” his attorney, Edward Sapone, told Newsday. “At the appropriate time, we will release vital information about what happened that’s not captured on video and that completely changes this case. Until then, we ask the community to reserve judgment and pray for those who are suffering.”
Sapone also alleged that some of Morris’ friends may be affiliated with the Bloods street gang, and he has requested that Flach be held in protective custody as a precaution, News 12 reported.