Maryland man indicted for allegedly beating man he suspected of being gay

The alleged attack took place in North Bergen's Braddock Park

The attack occurred at the south end of the lake in Braddock Park. Photo via Hudson County Parks
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The attack occurred at the south end of the lake in Braddock Park. Photo via Hudson County Parks

Jose Tobias Carranza Serrano, 18, has been charged with attempted murder and bias intimidation for allegedly beating and choking a man he suspected of being gay in North Hudson Park, known as Braddock Park, in North Bergen on the night of June 21, Acting Attorney General Andrew Bruck announced.

“We will not tolerate violence targeting the LGBTQ+ community,” Bruck said. “There is simply no excuse for this type of hate, and we will ensure that those who engage in violence are held fully accountable for their actions.”

The Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau yesterday obtained a state grand jury indictment charging José Tobias Carranza Serrano aka “Kevin Lopez,” 18, from Baltimore, Maryland, with attempted homicide in the first degree, bias intimidation in the first degree, robbery in the first degree, and aggravated assault in the second degree.

“We’re committed to working collaboratively to solve and aggressively prosecute bias crimes,” said Director Lyndsay Ruotolo of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Crimes motivated by hate pose a heightened threat to our communities and demand a heightened level of vigilance. I commend our Specialized Crimes Bureau, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and our other law enforcement partners for their outstanding work on this case.”

Attacked in Braddock park

Carranza Serrano was charged in an investigation by the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and DCJ Specialized Crimes Bureau—Bias Crimes Unit, assisted by the North Bergen, Hoboken, and Bayonne Police Departments. Carranza Serrano is being held pending trial in the Hudson County Correctional Center.

Carranza Serrano allegedly attacked the victim after 11 p.m. on June 21, 2021, near the south end of the lake in North Hudson Park. The investigation revealed that the victim was a stranger whom Carranza Serrano had just met.

Carranza Serrano allegedly wanted to kill the victim because he suspected the victim was gay. Carranza Serrano allegedly punched and kicked the victim in the face, causing bone fractures and knocking out several teeth. He also allegedly attempted to strangle the victim.

Carranza Serrano allegedly took a phone and $8 from the victim. The victim was found unconscious near the path around the lake by a passerby shortly before 5 a.m. on June 22.

Years behind bars?

Deputy Attorney General Danielle Scarduzio presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ) Specialized Crimes Bureau, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Jacqueline Smith, Bureau Chief Erik Daab, and DCJ Deputy Director Annmarie Taggart. Detectives Samer Abboud and Brian Christensen are assigned to the case for the DCJ Bias Crimes Unit, under the supervision of Lt. Michael Fallon, Deputy Chief of Detectives Robert Stemmer, and Chief of Detectives Weldon Powell.

Acting Attorney General Bruck thanked the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, under the leadership of Sheriff Frank X. Schillari, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, under the leadership of Prosecutor Esther Suarez, and the North Bergen, Hoboken, and Bayonne Police Departments.

The first-degree bias intimidation charge carries a sentence of 15 to 30 years in state prison. The attempted murder charge carries a sentence of 10 to 20 years in state prison, with parole ineligibility equal to 85 percent of the sentence imposed. Second-degree charges carry a sentence of five to 10 years in prison.

The charges are merely accusations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.