BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (AP) — For the fifth time since September, police have discovered the remains of a dead teenager in a suburban Long Island community plagued by gang violence.
Suffolk County police said the death of 18-year-old Jose Pena-Hernandez, of Brentwood, was being investigated as a homicide. He had been reported missing on June 13 and his remains were found Sunday in a wooded area of the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Brentwood, police said in a release.
The discovery comes after four Brentwood High School teens were found dead within the past six weeks, all suspected victims of gang violence.
Police didn't immediately know if Pena-Hernandez attended the Brentwood school but said he was "a known MS-13 gang member."
They said an autopsy would be conducted to determine the cause of death.
On Sept. 13, Nisa Mickens' brutally beaten body was found on a tree-lined street in Brentwood, a day before her 16th birthday. A day later, the beaten body of her lifelong friend, 16-year-old Kayla Cuevas, was discovered in the wooded backyard of a nearby home. The teenagers had been inseparable and shared an interest in basketball.
Days later, police discovered the skeletal remains of Oscar Acosta, 19, and Miguel Garcia-Moran, 15, in a remote industrial area of the town. Acosta had been missing since May, and Garcia-Moran vanished in February.
In the wake of the deaths, school administrators warned students not to wear clothing that risked offending vicious street gangs.
There have been no arrests.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press earlier that the Salvadoran gang MS-13 was suspected and that bad crews had been operating in the area for a while. The official was not authorized to talk publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity. At least 30 people have been killed by MS-13 gang members on Long Island since 2010.
In 2010, four MS-13 gangsters were convicted in the killing of a Long Island woman and her toddler son. Prosecutors say the mother had allegedly shown disrespect to the gang and her child was murdered simply because he was with her.
Last week, police looked for gang members in connection with an attack on a 34-year-old man, found beaten to death on a Brentwood street. Police say Dewann A.S. Stacks was walking late at night on Oct. 13 when he was assaulted.
Associated Press writer Frank Eltman contributed to his report.