Thomas Lacolla probably never saw it coming. On November 17, 2015, the 27-year-old Riverhead native was sitting in a car on Northville Turnpike at about 9:37 PM when all hell broke loose. Moments later, he was dead. His body filled with bullets.
At the time, local police thought maybe he was a target. Lacolla had done time for drug and weapons-related convictions, and had only been on the street a month since his release.
But this week, the final piece of that tragic puzzle was laid in place: Lacolla was, simply, in the wrong place at the wrong time — a victim of mistaken identity.
The realization came last week when a grand jury indicted six local men accused of being members of the Bloods, the notorious street gang. They ran as a set, called the Red Stone Gorillas. Among the indicted offences, which included robberies, narcotics trafficking, and firearm offenses, was murder. And Lacolla was the victim.
Willie Belcher, 33, and Eric Ross, 27, of Flanders; Corey Belcher, 34, of Riverhead; and Roger Foster, 22, of Baiting Hollow; were picked up, while Jimmy Dean, 41, of Calverton; and Terrill Latney, 39; were already in custody.
“Through murder, assaults, and drug sales these members and associates of the Bloods’ Red Stone Gorillas posed a grave danger to communities on eastern Long Island,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said.
The gang ruled local streets through violence and intimidation, selling coke, crack, and heroin in the Riverhead area for the better part of a decade, police said.
According to grand jury testimony, Latney and others fatally shot Lacolla as he sat in the intended victim’s car, according to the indictment.
On August 1, 2015, Foster and others shot and wounded a suspected member of the rival Crips gang and a female bystander, according to the indictment. Following Dean’s arrest in 2016, Latney, Foster, and others assumed control of the gang’s drug distribution operations, prosecutors said.
The East End Drug Task Force, Riverhead police, and the FBI made the arrests.
Who Are These Guys?
A car full of out-of-town partyers stole a couple cases of beer and raised some hell. But who are they?
Southold police asked that question October 10 after pulling over a car with Virginia plates.
The driver was unable to produce valid identification, another occupant gave a fictitious name, but finally, a third passenger was known through fingerprints — Rolman Roberto Garcia-Xicay — who provided a false name and possessed a forged Social Security card matching it, police said. Under questioning, he admitted to lying. Fingerprints showed he was also “previously detained by federal authorities under a different name,” police added.
Two juveniles in the car were the ones who stole the beer from the BP gas station in Peconic, police said. They were transported to police headquarters and released to family. A fifth individual in the car was also turned loose.
Garcia-Xicay was charged with second-degree possession of a forged instrument and false personation, according to a press release. Oscar Mayen-Orrego, 20, was charged with false personation, unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and having an open alcoholic beverage in the car.
Both men were held overnight and were arraigned in Southold Town Justice Court the next morning.