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New York man faces hate crime charges in attacks on Latino men

Police alleged that Christopher Cella, 19, picked up three men separately, choking one and attacking another. The third man fled, authorities said.

A New York man who was arrested Sunday faces hate crime charges after he was accused of targeting three Latino men in what authorities described as separate attacks on Long Island.

The man, Christopher Cella, 19, will be arraigned Monday on multiple counts of aggravated harassment, criminal obstruction of breathing, unlawful imprisonment and reckless endangerment, Suffolk County police said.

Two of the allegations will be charged under the state’s hate crimes law, the police department said.

The first incident occurred Friday morning, police said, when Cella drove to a Mexican restaurant in Farmingville and picked up a man identified as a 52-year-old resident of the nearby community of Holbrook.

Cella took the man to an abandoned construction site and attacked him, the police department said. Police did not say how the man was attacked or whether he escaped or was injured. Investigators did not immediately respond to a request for more details.

Cella is accused of driving to an area near a 7-11 in Farmingville less than an hour later and picking up a 60-year-old man from another nearby town. The man was taken to a condominium complex and choked before he escaped, the police department said.

Cella is alleged to have returned to the 7-11 site Saturday morning and picked up a third person, whom authorities described as a 47-year-old man from Brentwood. Cella is accused of trying to take him to an unidentified location; the man fled after he became suspicious, police said.

Cella was arrested Sunday morning at his home without incident, authorities said. He was being held overnight at a local jail, and it was not unclear whether he had retained an attorney.

The police department did not say what the motive might have been or how the men were persuaded to get in the car.