Local gang members mistakenly believed that two University of Rochester football players had robbed a drug dealer – and so they wanted to exact revenge. Police say that the gang members – led by Lydell Strickland, lured the men into a home where they tortured and raped the football players.
On Dec. 5, 2015, two women picked up the students and drove them to the house, where Strickland and others were waiting in masks and dark clothing. They surrounded the students, and one of them was shot in the leg with a .22-caliber rifle as he tried to escape, shattering his femur, prosecutors said. After binding the students with duct tape, the group subjected them to a range of tortures over the course of nearly two days.
One of the students described the ordeal from the witness stand in November. He and his friend were beaten with pipes and bats, threatened with guns, and even cut with a chainsaw, he said, and recounted how the attackers sliced the skin between his toes with a knife and pliers, according to TWC News. At one point he was shot in his other leg and later had to undergo surgery. He told the court the defendants doused them in flammable liquid and threatened to light them on fire. He said the defendants also stole thousands of dollars from his bank accounts after forcing him to give up his passwords and identification numbers.
“The torture consists of something you would see in a movie, but it’s not a movie because this is real life,” he said, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
The whole time, he said, the defendants seemed almost giddy. He recalled hearing from inside the bathroom men and women laughing and watching television.
“They were drinking and having a good time while there were people dying in the other room,” he testified. “At this point, my body was broken down and I didn’t know how much longer I could go on.”
Just before nightfall, after being held captive for some 40 hours, the students heard explosions outside, according to the Democrat and Chronicle. A police SWAT team had come to save them. Their roommates had reported them missing, and an investigation led police to one of the women who lured them to the house, the Tribune reported.