Chittenango men arrested in "racially motivated" attack

Louis Skavienski / photo: Chittenango Police

1:00 pm Friday update:

CNYcentral continues to follow an alleged racially motivated attack in Chittenango on Monday. CNYcentral's Jim Kenyon spoke with Rick Kinney who claims he knows all three suspects . Kinney says Louis Skavienski has lived in Chittenango for less than a year and came from North Carolina. He feels Skavienski instigated the alleged racial incident and feels that Tyler Sasenbury and Sean Cummings were, "Just being stupid." Kinney feels from what he's learned of the incident that it was infact a hate crime and says, "all three should be prosecuted."

We tried to reach Skavienski by phone and he has not returned our call. No one answered the door at his Chittenango apartment. At last report Sasenbury and Cummings were still in jail.

If the Madison County District Attorney decides that the incident meets the standard for a hate crime, it would be a rare occurrence in Madison County and part of a growing statewide trend. According to the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services there was only one reported instance of a hate crime in Madison County from 2005-2009.

Statewide reported hate crimes increased approximately 14% between 2008-2009. According to the hate crime report issued in December of last year New York City reported 275 hate crime incidents, and 53 arrests. The rest of the state reported 394 incidents and 126 arrests. Nearly 30% of those convicted after a hate crime arrest were sentenced to prison, 18% were sentenced to probation, and 33% received conditional discharges.

11:00 pm Thursday update:

Several people who say they witnessed what police are calling a "racially motivated" attack in Chittenango are sharing their experience with CNY Central.

Diane Romain lives just a few feet from where the altercation took place. She said she was inside her home on Genesee Street when she heard loud noises from outside.

"There were people beating up a black guy on the street and it was just terrible," she said.

Other witnesses said they could hear the fight from across the street because it was so loud.

Police say three men, Louis Skavienski, Tyler Sasenbury and Sean Cummings verbally and physically abused Antoine Gainey Monday night. They say Gainey was sitting his car when the three men, allegedly drunk at the time, approached the car. That's when authorities say Gainey got out because he had a child in the car with him.

Court documents obtained by CNY Central show the three men punched and kicked Gainey while he was on the ground, calling him the "N-word".

Madison County District Attorney Bill Gabor told CNY Central he will strongly pursue this as a hate crime. He said Gainey had blood coming from his nose after the incident. Gabor said Gainey refused medical attention at the time, and he hasn't been in contact with him since. His injuries aren't considered life-threatening.

"If we can prove the hate crime element of it, which we think we can, we will definitely pursue it and not be looking at reducing any charges. (We will) be seeking maximum sentences, Gabor said.

Meanwhile, folks in Chittenango can't believe something like this happened in their small community.

Original story:

Two Chittenango men are facing charges in what police say was a 'racially motivated' assault.

25-year-old Tyler Sasenbury, of 1664 Fyler Road, and 44-year-old Louis Skavienski, of 236 Genesee Street, were arrested following a physical dispute on Monday involving numerous people.

Chittenango police say the men assaulted 27-year-old Antoine Gainey because he is black. The Madison County District Attorney's Office says it is 'strongly looking to prosecute' the alleged offenses as hate crimes. Officials say the suspects punched and kicked Gainey while he was on the ground, and allegedly used the 'n-word' during the altercation.

The D.A.'s Office says Gainey's wife witnessed the end of the fight, and there was a child in his car.

Sasenbury and Skavienski are charged with disorderly conduct, harassment and menacing. They were arraigned in the Village of Chittenango Court and sent to the Madison County Jail on $2,500 cash bail. Skavienski posted bail and was released Thursday afternoon.

23-year-old Sean Cummings, of 500 Genesee Street, is currently being held on unrelated charges of disorderly conduct, harassment and menacing.