NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - The battle against the brutal MS-13 gang has turned into a war after the bodies of four murdered men were discovered at a park at Lowell Avenue and Clinton Street in Central Islip, Long Island, police said.
Suffolk County Police said they believe the victims were killed in a wooded area of the park. The bodies were found about 8 p.m. on Tuesday near the Central Islip Recreation Center.
Assistant Police Commissioner Justin Meyers told Fox 5 News that the victims were stabbed and, "suffered significant trauma through their bodies." He said the killings were consistent with the method that MS-13 has used in the past.
Police Commissioner Timothy Sini has declared war on gangs on Long Island.
"This is a long-term war, and make no mistake about it -- it's a war," Sini said. "Today is a sad day in Suffolk County, particularly for the loved ones and the family members and the friends of those who were murdered, but we maintain our resolve."
The victims were 16, two 18-year-olds, and 20.
The family of a 16-year-old high school student who has been missing since Tuesday was at the scene trying to get details. The family feared that the teen might be among the victims.
Police are withholding the names of the victims while until their families are contacted.
At a Thursday afternoon news conference, police announced a $25,000 reward in connection with solving the murders.
In a statement, County Executive Steve Bellone said he was outraged by the murders.
"These heinous acts will not go unpunished and our communities will not be intimidated by such cowardly violence," Bellone said. "On behalf of all Suffolk County residents, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims' families, friends, and loved ones during this difficult period."
He added that he is confident that police will catch the killers and "bring them to justice."
Several weeks ago, police arrested eight MS-13 gang members in connection with the beating deaths of two teenage girls, whose bodies were discovered in Brentwood.
That investigation also uncovered the skeletal remains of three teenage boys in the same area. Police believe they were victims of the MS-13 gang.
Suffolk County cops have arrested 142 MS-13 members since a crackdown that started in September. Police are working with the FBI and have enhanced patrols in the area.