NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Tyler Flach walked out of police headquarters Thursday morning in handcuffs to face a judge. The 18-year-old turned himself in Wednesday and has since pleaded not guilty to second degree murder in the stabbing death of 16-year-old Khaseen Morris.
“We can't sit idly by as 16-year-olds expire and bleed out on our streets here in Nassau County,” said Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas.
Investigators say the brawl stemmed from a dispute over a girl whom Morris walked home from a party. Soon after, they say, the girl's jealous ex-boyfriend started threatening Morris saying he wanted to fight.
“Tyler is an associate of the ex-boyfriend of this particular girl in question,” said Det. Lt. Stephen Fitzpatrick with the Nassau County Police Department. “He's in his particular crew or group and he came there as a partner to have this fight. He took it to the next level.”
Officials say Flach, who has prior arrests including a misdemeanor case pending for an assault in May "absolutely stabbed Morris in the chest, pierced his heart and caused his death" but Flach's attorney says there's more to the story.
“There’s certainly evidence on social media that tends to suggest that group is involved with street gang violence. There are gang signs, there is hair that’s dyed blood orange or red, there are guns on social media, and so there is certainly evidence that group has those connections,” said Edward Sapone, Flach’s attorney.
Nassau County Police only received a handful of 911 calls but the melee caught on cellphone video shows dozens of kids standing around and watching.
As part of the investigation detectives will continue to comb through clues and search for surveillance video to find others involved in the attack.
“The time to come forward is now,” said Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder with the Nassau County Police Department. “Not till after the fact that you've been arrested.”
Police want to let the public know additional security is in place in the community to make sure kids are safe. As for Flach, he's being held without bail. He faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted. He's due back in court later this month.