The events surrounded the death of Mr. Perez are unclear, what is known is that the community leader was sitting outside when a group of men attacked him. Police officers found Mr. Perez shortly after 4 AM April 3, lying outside of his estranged wife's building in Queens. When the officers arrived, Mr. Perez was still alive but bleeding from a head laceration. He died several hours later.
Mr. Perez was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the East Village when he was four years old. He founded Charas as a community center and home for artists in 1965. The group moved into their current East Ninth Street location in 1979 and began to renovate the former public school building into a space for artists' studios and rehearsal rooms for theatre and dance groups.
Charas/El Bohio is a five-story former public school building at 605 East Ninth Street. Last year the building was sold by the city in an auction, and Mr. Perez was fighting to keep the building's new owner from evicting the group. Charas provided a rehearsal home and offices for many downtown directors and theatre companies including: Kristin Marting, Richard Maxwell, Collapsible Giraffe, Great Small Works, Mark Lonergan, The Cloven Patriarchs, Gorilla Rep and Peculiar Works Project.
A date for funeral services has yet to be announced.
-- By Sean McGrath