In a mind-numbing case of mistaken identity, a young boy's life was cut short in the hands of senseless violence. On a late Wednesday evening (June 20), Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was murdered by a group of men who claimed he was part of a video where an unidentified person was recorded having sex with one of the suspects' sister.
On surveillance footage caught outside of a deli in the Bronx's Belmont area, Guzman-Feliz, known as Junior, was dragged out of the store and slashed with a machete and other weaponry. Onlookers stood by as the suspects attacked and fled the scene. The 15-year-old walked himself to the nearby St. Barnabas Hospital where he collapsed and died.
Since his passing, memorials have taken form. Donations to a GoFundMe page to assist with funeral costs and other expenses has exceeded its initial $15,000 goal. Celebrities have also stepped in alongside community members to fight for justice for the slain teen who's been described as a "good kid."
With this tragic incident making national headlines, here's some information gathered from around the web on Guzman-Feliz and the suspects responsible for his death.
1. Junior's Career Goal Was To Become A Police Officer With The NYPD
According to the teen's mother, Leandra Feliz, her son began his dream of becoming a police officer by joining the NYPD's Explorers Program. The outlet mentors the city's youth, ages 14-20, and gives future NYPD members first-hand experience on what it's like to be part of the law enforcement conglomerate.
"He was one of the good kids in the Bronx," his mother said. "He has never been in any fight, never, in 15 years. He was innocent. He never grew up on the streets. He was with me all the time." Leandra Feliz added that Mayor Bill de Blasio has yet to reach out to the family.
2. Guzman-Feliz's Family Called For A Boycott Of The Deli Where He Was Murdered
Cruz and Chiky Grocery in the Bronx's Belmont area was the site of Guzman-Feliz's murder. Surveillance footage shows a few of the suspects followed the teen into the store (located on East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue), and then dragged him out while employees stood by.
Guzman-Feliz's sister-in-law, Lone Feliz, said she could not understand why the store's "owners or employees or whoever is there" neglected to get the teen proper medical attention when he re-entered the store with multiple wounds. ABC 7 New York reports the family has now called for a boycott of the corner store. "They treated my son like he was a delinquent like they didn't know him," the teen's mother said. "Before the killer gets inside the store, my son was already hiding inside the store, and they killed him maybe already 30 seconds later."
3. NYPD Officials Received A "Torrent Of Tips" After The Story Gained Traction
As local law enforcement officials opened an investigation into identifying and arresting the five suspects (who're in custody now), Chief Dermot F. Shea shared that the department received a wave of beneficial tips from those offering help, The New York Times reports. Chief Shea believes people became "disgusted by what they saw" and decided to bring justice to Junior and his family.
On Monday morning (June 25), authorities located and arrested Kevin Alvarez, 19, who was charged with murder, manslaughter and other felonies. Alongside his detainment, the NYPD arrested six other men in connection to the killing: Manuel Rivera (18), Santiago Rodriguez (24), Danel Fernandez (21), Jose Taverez (21), Joniki Martinez (24), and Jose Munia (21).
Over the weekend (June 23-24), candles and flowers began to take residence on Bathgate Avenue. The store where the teen was killed also has memorabilia lined up outside. ABC 7 notes a funeral service will be held on Tuesday (June 26) at the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home from 3-9 p.m. EST in the Bronx.
4. Reports Claim The Suspects Are Part Of The Trinitarios Gang
Since 1992, the Trinitarios solidified its deep roots in the Bronx, the New York Post reveals. Authorities believe the suspects were part of the gang and their weapon of choice is primarily a machete, which was used to injure and thus kill Guzman-Feliz. Trinitarios reportedly formed on Rikers Island and is known as the United States' "largest Dominican gang."
Members of the teen's family allegedly received text messages from a high-ranking gang member who apologized for the mistaken identity crime. "It wasn't supposed to be him," the text reads, per the Post. The news site also reports the Trinitarios may be connected to a non-fatal stabbing of a 14-year-old in the Bronx on Monday (June 18).
5. The Teen Girl In The Controversial Video Is In Police Protection
Recently (June 25), The New York Post published a story that states the teen girl seen in the controversial video is in police protection. She's received threats on various social media accounts since Guzman-Feliz's death, some pegging her as the cause of this incident. The 15-year-old was also a part of the NYPD Explorers program.
6. Celebrities Have Voiced Their Condolences And Given Their Support
Once the news hit the Internet, celebrities also joined the cause under the hashtag #JusticeForJunior. Power star LaLa and NBA player Carmelo Anthony visited Guzman-Feliz's family and offered financial support, sneakers, jerseys and a painted self-portrait of the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School student - he was a fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder player.
"I can't imagine this type of pain and sadness," LaLa wrote on Instagram. "His family is strong and may God bless them forever. Seeing his family smile when we walked through that door is something I will never forget." Cardi B, a fellow Bronx native, also donated $8,000 to the slain teen's GoFundMe page.