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Man Dies After Beating by Swarm of ATV and Dirt Bike Riders

Police investigators are seeking suspects in a homicide weeks after a 45-year-old man was beaten by about 30 people on ATVs and dirt bikes on East 125th Street in East Harlem, the police said on Wednesday.

The man, whom police identified as Arthur Cooke, was driving east at around 10 p.m. on Nov. 4 when someone in the group struck the passenger-side mirror on his vehicle, the Police Department said. When he got out to inspect the damage, riders began beating him.

Mr. Cooke was taken to NYC Health + Hospitals/Harlem, where he was pronounced dead on Nov. 18 from blunt force trauma to his neck and spine, according to the department.

Dirt bikes and ATVs are illegal in the city, but the city had been grappling for years with the vehicles. Avenues and streets throughout Manhattan are periodically taken over by swarms of riders popping wheelies, performing stunts and videotaping themselves amid a deafening roar.

The takeovers sometimes devolve into violence. In March, a group of dirt bikers dragged a man and his adult son out of their car in Harlem and beat them after the driver accidentally hit one of the bikers.

And in 2013, after a chase ended in the beating of an S.U.V. driver, residents in communities in Harlem, the Bronx, Washington Heights and Inwood began voicing frustrations that the city was ignoring the dangers posed by groups driving the illegal vehicles.

Last year, after several incidents of violence from such groups, the city began cracking down, and a lawmaker proposed legislation to increase fines for those operating the vehicles.

In June, Mayor Eric Adams and Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell announced that the city was ramping up the fight to remove the vehicles from the streets. The Police Department had confiscated over 2,000 ATVs and dirt bikes citywide, Commissioner Sewell said, about 80 percent more than during the same time in 2021.

“They are not only a nuisance and an annoyance to us, but they’re extremely dangerous,” Mr. Adams said at the time.

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