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Immigrant survives beating in Shenandoah

Mixed versions and fear take hold of Hispanics in this Pennsylvania town.

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Unidentified individuals kidnapped, beat down and took to a parking lot a Mexican immigrant in Shenandoah, Pa., in an incident fueling the fear Hispanics feel in this town and that leaves many questions unanswered.

The only clear thing is the arrest of two individuals allegedly involved in the incident, according to local police.

It was in this town two hours North of Philadelphia that four white teenagers allegedly beat to dead Mexican immigrant Luis Eduardo Ramírez Zavala on July 12.

This time the victim was Mexican national Javier “Chuy” Alcalá, 21, who, according to the accounts of individuals that supposedly spoke with him, was attacked from behind when he was walking home towards at around 5 a.m., near Centre and West streets, in downtown Shenandoah, on Sept. 13.

The Shenandoah Police Department said—in information given to other media because AL DÍA was told that there were no reports on such incident—that Alcalá first gave that version and later said that a woman had lured him to her house where he was beaten, blindfolded and threatened by the individuals.

According to one individual who saw the victim at the hospital, the latter version is a lie, and assures that authorities intimidated Alcalá.

“He said that he didn’t want any trouble because he feared for his life”, a anonymous source close to Alcalá said.

The name of this source is being withheld, at this person’s request, fear of retaliation.

The source said also that after being hit on the head, Alcalá was gagged with tape and put into a vehicle.

“He heard them speaking English and said that they had a walkie-talkie, that someone was talking through a walkie-talkie”, the source said.

“When I asked him what he heard, what he understood, he said that they had said, ‘all Mexicans will have to leave.’”

The source said that while this was taking place, the individuals hit him and hurt his face badly.

“They then threw him off the car, in a vacant lot and from there he walked to the house where he found help,” the source said.

Another anonymous source, who also fears retaliation, wanted to help Alcalá and insisted he should file a complaint before the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, and said that the immigrant “refused to do this because he was very frightened.”

“When the policeman told him he had to change his story, he got really scarred and prepared to leave (Shenandoah),” the source said.

This person also said that Alcalá had his right hand broken, a wound in his head that needed five staples, broken teeth and bruises on his legs and other parts of his body.

Although everyone thought Alcalá had left Shenandoah, later accounts indicated that he was still in town and had appeared before the police.

On the morning of Sept. 17, almost one week after the attack, police reported that Elizabeth Iacobucci, 36, from Shenandoah, and Michael Bubnis, 48, from Mahony City, were arrested for their alleged involvement in this case, and had been arraigned before District Judge James Reilly.

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Iacobucci was charged with conspiracy, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, aggravated assault, simple assault, terroristic threats, recklessly endangering another person and harassment.

Bubnis faces a charge of hindering apprehension or prosecution.

It is still unclear of police are looking for more suspects.

According to Gladys Limón, staff attorney for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), who spoke with Alcalá, said that the accounts the confidential sources gave coincide with the one the victim told her.

She was alarmed also because the police in Shenandoah ran Alcalá’s fingerprints.

“He’s a victim not a criminal,” she said.

Limón said that she has already asked federal authorities, like the FBI and the Department of Justice, to follow closely the case.

Also the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) referred to this act as another “atrocity” happening in this town, after the July 12 beating to dead of Eduardo Ramírez Zavala, who died two days later at a hospital.

LULAC said it would send representatives to the town to meet with authorities and community members, in addition to calling on the Attorney General’s office to follow closely the investigations.

“We are trying to establish what really happened”, Brent Wilkes, of LULAC’s National Executive Director, said. “At this time we are unsure if the attack was provoked by hate or by any other factor.”

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