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Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg says he released a group of young migrants accused of assaulting two New York City police officers last weekend because he lacked evidence against them.
Controversy surrounding the case has heaped pressure on Bragg after it was revealed that only one of the 13 migrant youths accused of attacking the officers near Times Square last weekend remained in custody on Rikers Island, while the others were released without bond.
"Our profound obligation is to make sure we have the right people charged with the right crimes," Bragg told reporters Friday. "I don't think New Yorkers want to charge the wrong person."
Bragg said video footage of the assault "sickened me and outraged me," but it was impossible at the time to "conclusively identify each defendant."
Four of those arrested and since charged with felonies obtained bus tickets for Calexico, Calif., from a local New York charity and have fled New York, CNN reported. An unnamed source said the four used false names to obtain the bus tickets and might be heading to Mexico via Calexico.
Investigators told the broadcaster they can't pursue or stop them because Bragg didn't request bail and released them from jail on their own recognizance. Unless the accused show up for a pending court date later in February, law enforcement is powerless to stop them, they said.
Bragg said there is no evidence that those four have fled, but is investigating the possibility. Meanwhile, he said he is continuing his investigation into the assault to ensure the right people are charged with the correct offenses in the matter.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul called for the deportation of all 13 suspects, while the state Attorney General Letitia James said bail should have been sought in the matter and called the assault on the police officers a "serious felony."
New York gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin said Bragg should be fired for refusing to enforce the law.
Both officers are recovering from the assault, WCBS-TV reported.
The violence is part of a current trend caused by a lack of food, shelter and jobs for migrants who are growing more desperate, several sources told the New York Daily News.