NORTH BERGEN — A young man from Maryland attempted to kill a complete stranger because he thought the man was gay, according to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

Grewal's office on Wednesday announced attempted homicide, bias intimidation, robbery, and aggravated assault charges against 18-year-old José Tobias Carranza Serrano, of Baltimore, related to an incident in the early morning hours of June 22 in North Bergen.

According to authorities, the defendant attacked the victim near the south end of the lake in North Hudson Park. The victim was a stranger whom the defendant had just met.

"Carranza Serrano allegedly wanted to kill the victim because he suspected the victim was gay," the announcement said. "Carranza Serrano allegedly punched and kicked the victim in the face, causing multiple fractures and knocking out several teeth."

The defendant also attempted to strangle the victim, and he took a phone and $8 from the victim, authorities said.

"The victim was beaten and choked so badly that he was unconscious for several hours before a passerby found him and called for help," Grewal said. "Whether this type of hate-fueled violence is directed against the LGBTQ+ community or other groups, it is terribly destructive to society and we must push back against it in every way possible."

Carranza Serrano, who was arrested on June 23, is being held in the Hudson County Correctional Facility pending a detention hearing. The case is being prosecuted by the county prosecutor's office and the state Division of Criminal Justice.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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