NEW YORK -- A gang of teens in love with the blood-drenched digital killfest "Grand Theft Auto IV" - in which players slaughter hundreds during endless crime sprees - copied the video game's violent hero with a two-hour campaign of real-life robbery and brutality on Long Island, cops said yesterday.
The wild rampage featured such staples of the mega-popular game as a mugging, several break-ins and attempted carjackings at an intersection in tony Garden City, police said. They even allegedly knocked one man's teeth out.
"They decided they were going to go out to commit robberies and emulate the [lead] character Nico Belic in the particularly violent video game 'Grand Theft Auto,' " said Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Raymond Cote. "These teens have difficulty separating fact from fiction, fantasy from reality . . . It was quite alarming."
The series of attacks started at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, allegedly carried out by a gang of four teens led by 15-year-old Brandon Cruz. The youths had been sitting in Memorial Park in New Hyde Park, looking for something to do, when they allegedly decided to live out the game.
In "Grand Theft Auto IV," players assume the role of Belic, a criminal who murders and robs to rise to the top of the underworld in "Liberty City," which closely resembles New York City.
"They were bored, and they decided this was a good idea," Cote said.
Cruz and his pals - Samuel Philip, 16, Gurnoor Singh, 14 and Jaspreet Singh, 17, no relation - allegedly found their first victim waiting at bus stop near the park. The teens, all of New Hyde Park, beat him and stole his cash, police said.
"They knocked his teeth out," Cote said.
They then broke into garages and sheds and stole bats and crowbars, police said.
They soon met up with other kids. Two of them joined the original four, police said, and they decided to take their crime spree to another level by acting out "Grand Theft Auto's" signature crime - carjacking.
The teens went to nearby Garden City and allegedly set up a human roadblock.
There they menaced a 23-year-old woman in a 2008 BMW with bats, cops said. She sped away and called cops.
When police arrived, the youths were trying to rob a man in a van, cops said.
All four of the teens were arrested, along with the two youths who joined them, Stephen Attard, 18, of New Hyde Park and Dylan Laird, 17, who was visiting from Southborough, Mass. They were all charged with first-degree robbery, except for Jaspreet Singh, who was charged with possession of stolen property.
Philip, Cruz and Gurnoor Singh were held on $300,000 bond. The others were slapped with lesser bails. None of the teens was able to post bail after their arraignment yesterday.
After the hearing, Gurnoor Singh's dad admitted his son played the game but said he was innocent. "We don't believe anything," he said.