NEW YORK — Authorities opened a homicide investigation Tuesday into an attack on an Ecuadorean immigrant whose assailants reportedly shouted anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs, then beat him with a baseball bat and kicked him.
Jose Sucuzhanay, 31, was attacked early Sunday as he walked arm in arm with his 38-year-old brother, Romel, in Brooklyn. He had been listed in critical condition after undergoing brain surgery.
A law enforcement official said Sucuzhanay had been declared brain dead and was taken off life support Tuesday. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
But relatives held a news conference to say that Sucuzhanay was clinging to life and that the family had an important decision to make.
The three assailants were still being sought.
Police said the brothers first attended a church party, then stopped at a bar. They may have been drunk, leaning on each other for support while walking home.
Sucuzhanay wore a tank top, his brother a T-shirt with a jacket tied over his shoulders. Arm in arm, they paused at a street corner where a sport utility vehicle was at a stoplight, police said.
Witnesses said they heard men in the vehicle shouting anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs at the brothers. One man jumped out of the SUV and smashed a beer bottle over Sucuzhanay's head, police said.
As Sucuzhanay's brother ran away, two other men got out of the vehicle and joined the assault, police said. One hit Sucuzhanay in the head with an aluminum baseball bat while the others kicked him, police said.
At some point, Romel Sucuzhanay returned with a cellphone and told the men he had called police, authorities said. The attackers drove off.
Romel Sucuzhanay was not hurt.
Police said robbery was not a motive. Initially, police said there were four attackers but revised that number Tuesday.
The New York Police Department is offering a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects.