NEW YORK — A subway rampage by a predominantly black youth gang was added to the city's growing list of racially motivated attacks, this one leaving eight victims bloodied and bruised but not seriously injured, police said Thursday.
In the latest incident, a pack of 20 to 25 youths shouted "Howard Beach, Howard Beach" while beating and robbing passengers on a subway near Times Square early Thursday.
Seven of the victims were white, and the attack had "bias overtones," police said.
It was the third known incidence of mob violence in which assailants chanted the name of the mostly white Queens neighborhood where an attack by a white gang resulted in the death of a black man Dec. 20.
Joint investigators for city and transit police revised an earlier assessment that the chanting by Thursday's gang was an attempt to cover up the robbery activity, Officer James Coleman said.
"It has been ruled a robbery with bias overtones," said Coleman, who added the re-evaluation followed police interviews with victims of the attack.
Police arrested eight members of the mob and charged seven with robbery, assault, first-degree riot and resisting arrest. A 14-year-old was released for lack of evidence.
Coleman said late Thursday it had not been determined if aggravated harassment charges would be added now that the case has been ruled a bias incident.
Transit Authority spokesman John Cunningham said the attacking group was mostly black, while the victims were three white females, four white males and another man who police said was either Pakistani or Indian.
Two Groups Board Train
Cunningham said the attackers boarded an A train at 42nd Street at Times Square, followed by a smaller group of six students who had been at the Times Square New Year's celebration.
"During the trip from 42nd Street to 59th Street, the larger group attacked, beat and robbed the smaller group. During the course of the attack, there were chants of 'Howard Beach, Howard Beach,' " he said.
The victims suffered superficial injuries, one lost a gold chain and another was robbed of a wallet and gold watch.