It was standing-room-only service inside Our Lady Mt. Carmel church in the Belmont section of The Bronx, where mourners said their final goodbyes to Lesandro (Junior) Guzman-Feliz. The 15-year-old’s vicious death, captured on video and circulated on social media, ignited grief but prompted an outpouring of tips to help catch the men involved.
Junior’s family sat in the first five pews, while members of the New York Police Department attended the funeral in uniform. Members of the community filled the church.
Pallbearers wearing jeans and New York Yankee jerseys carried the teen’s casket out of the church and placing it inside the hearse.
At 11:30 PM ET on June 20, Junior left his Bronx apartment to loan a friend $5. When his mother realized he was taking long to return, she called him. Surveillance footage from the night shows Junior running into a bodega on East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue in an attempt to hide. Junior was then dragged out of the deli where he was stabbed and slashed multiple times by more than half a dozen men. He then ran towards St. Barnabas Hospital where he collapsed outside of the emergency room and died.
Law enforcement believes Junior was wrongly targeted in a case of mistaken identity. It’s also reported the attack was prompted by the Dominican gang, Trinitarios. While a motive has not been made clear, it’s said a female cousin of one of the gang members was seen having sex on a Snapchat video with a young man, and Junior’s attack was retribution.
As of Monday (June 25), seven men connected to the murder were held in police custody. Kevin Alvarez, 19, was charged with second-degree murder and is described as the man on the video seen dragging Junior “through the threshold.” On Tuesday (June 26), an eighth suspect was taken in. According to The New York Post, Elvin Garcia was charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a machete.
“The brutal nature of this crime, we will leave literally no stone unturned until we make sure that we get justice and we make sure that everyone involved in this incident is brought to justice,” Dermot Shea, NYPD Chief of Detectives, said.
City Councilman Ritchie Torres is calling for the life imprisonment of the gang members.
“Gang members who drag a young teen out of a bodega and then hack him to death repeatedly with knives and a machete deserve to rot in prison for the rest of their lives.”