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Two motorcyclists in custody after high-speed NY chase, beating

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two motorcyclists were in police custody on Tuesday in connection with a high-speed chase along a Manhattan highway that ended when a motorcycle gang dragged a New York man from his vehicle and beat him while his wife and baby looked on, police said.

Christopher Cruz, 28, of Passaic, New Jersey, was charged with reckless endangerment, reckless driving, menacing and endangering the welfare of a child, said Sergeant Lee Jones of the New York City Police Department.

A second motorcycle rider surrendered himself to a Queens police precinct later on Tuesday, telling authorities he was the rider who could be seen on the video slamming his hands into the SUV as a fellow rider smashed the driver's side window open with his helmet, said NYPD Detective Kelly Ort.

The second rider, described as a 42-year-old from Jamaica, Queens, has not been charged in the attack, Ort said, adding his identity was not immediately available.

"The investigation is continuing with regards to other participants in this assault," Jones said.

Cruz was arrested early Tuesday after he was asked to come to the NYPD's 33rd Precinct, Jones said.

The chase and subsequent attack on Sunday were captured by a video camera attached to the helmet of one of the motorcyclists and posted online on Monday.

The video appears to show an accident involving the victim's sport utility vehicle and one of dozens of motorcycles being driven north on the Henry Hudson Parkway in upper Manhattan.

It showed the group of bikers suddenly slowing and stopping en masse, bringing northbound traffic to a halt.

The SUV, a dark-colored Range Rover, suddenly accelerated, rolling over several motorcycles and knocking at least one rider to the ground.

The video then showed dozens of motorcyclists giving chase and catching the driver in traffic in upper Manhattan's Washington Heights.

The driver was dragged from the SUV and beaten, according Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

"He's taken out of the car," Kelly told reporters. "He's assaulted."

The victim, identified only as a resident of New York City, was treated for facial lacerations and chest wounds at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, according to a police source.

A police source said authorities believed the motorcyclists who chased the SUV were part of a large group that had planned an unauthorized gathering in New York on Sunday. This was similar to an event last year, when the riders organized online and gathered in large groups in Times Square without permission, the source said.

This year, the police source said, authorities set up a series of checkpoints at bridges and tunnels to prevent the motorcycle group from gathering in large numbers in the city.

(Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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