NEW YORK — Eight young men arrested in the stabbing death of a tourist from Utah in a subway station belonged to a gang that required would-be members to mug someone as an initiation rite, it was reported today.
Former members said the gang robbed people "for the hell of it" and to get money to go dancing, the New York Times reported.
The youth suspected of wielding the murder weapon has claimed that the victim, Brian Watkins, 22, ran into his knife and that the stabbing was accidental, New York Newsday and the New York Post quoted police as saying.
Newsday said the suspect, Yull Garry Morales, 18, told investigators: "There was fighting. I took out my knife to protect myself and the guy turned and it went into him."
Police said Watkins had come to his family's defense late Sunday as they waited for a subway train when gang members sliced open his father's pants and punched his mother in the mouth.
The gang took credit cards and about $200 in cash to go dancing, police said. After the stabbing, the gang headed to a nearby dance club, where five of the suspects were arrested. Three others were seized later.
The Watkins family was in New York on an annual visit to see the U.S. Open tennis tournament.
Watkins was the 18th person slain in the subway system this year.
Police said they believe gang founder Morales stabbed Watkins and imposed the initiation. Morales was one of two gang members who did not have a police record.