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.
this is the person we lost. not a gang member or someone who deserved it, as the news is currently portraying him right now. he was innocent and sweet. spread this pic to let everyone see who we actually lost. the 45 will miss you forever @NYPD45Pct #justiceforjunior pic.twitter.com/uNSXgN0Weg
— Kemani Scott (@kemaniiiii) June 23, 2018
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.
UPDATE: Arrests have been made and more are anticipated. Suspects are currently being questioned. We thank the public for the outpouring of tips shared and we encourage people to continue to come forward and share them by calling #800577TIPS. The case is ongoing #JusticeForJunior pic.twitter.com/4a3um4XkMd
— NYPD NEWS (@NYPDnews) June 25, 2018
The memorial for Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz just keeps growing and growing. Thousands of candles burn after the 15 year-old-boy was brutally murdered by gang members that were caught and arrested over the weekend. #JusticeForJunior pic.twitter.com/3gxtP4zmVE
— Bronx Times Reporter (@bronxtimes) June 25, 2018
— (@promuatanya) June 25, 2018
— (@promuatanya) June 25, 2018
— glenn schuck (@glennschuck) June 25, 2018
#JUSTICEFORJUNIOR memorial grows as people come from all over the five boroughs and beyond to pay respect to the 15 year old who was stabbed to death by five men, now in police custody. @News12BX pic.twitter.com/rH0rHJa0QQ
— Torri Singer (@TorriSingerNews) June 25, 2018
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.
This is what I wanted to do for my birthday today. Thank you to the gram for connecting me to this family. I wanted to offer our love and support to Lesandro “Junior’s” family. His sister @__octobersveryown__ reached out and told me he loved Melo. So I asked Mel to go with me. I can’t imagine this type of pain and sadness. 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. Putting my arms around his mom is something I will never forget. Being in his room is something I will never forget. Pls go to his sister in laws page @c0co__amor to donate to this family. (& before it starts…we did more than bring jerseys and sneakers) just do what YOU can even if it’s $1.. this family will be in my heart forever #justiceforjunior #justiceforjunior
I just landed from LA & came straight to the Bronx to say a prayer & pay my respects to Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz. I had chills in this spot. So much love out there tonight for him. This innocent boy and his family have been on my mind & my heart nonstop…it’s heartbreaking what happened to him. I’m posting this because I have a platform to spread love and light on his life because most of what u see on the gram is the horrific way he died. Praying for you Junior and your mom and your whole family. Would love to help his family in anyway I can. If anyone can connect me pls do. There is also a go fund me account. This hurts Rest in heaven & be at peace Junior #justiceforjunior #justiceforjunior
— WS (@wesleysnipes) June 24, 2018
#justiceforjunior Junior was only 15 years old. Dragged out of a store , Beaten and stabbed to death my men twice his age. Not ONE person helped him after he ran to the hospital to try to get help for himself. Instead everyone just watched and recorded. Justice MUST be served ! pic.twitter.com/RHSSQGkIcY
— Skai Jackson ♡ (@skaijackson) June 23, 2018
Shheeeshhh this made me teared and made me feel soooo special like i feel maa special .Senora yo se que sus noche asido largas Triste talves Llora y despierta pensando que era una pesadilla .Pronto usted sentira mas protejida porque vas a sentir su hijo y vas a haver senales que el SI esta contigo.Que su familia tenga Paz pronto y que Dios siempre tenga su hijo en Gloria ….There’s a gofundme account for Junior make sure ya check it out !
#justiceforjunior R.I.P. .These Bronx streets are ruthless .What piss me off the most is that these BX cops be harassing the shit outta people then they see a boy bleeding to death and ask what happen ?“uuuummmmmmmm How bout you call the ambulance like ya be calling for back up when ya see nikkas smoking in front of a building !!!!! People be like”call the police!” Call the police!!” But for what the operators be asking you questions for like 4 minutes on the phone with an attitude and the cops come maaa lateeee.
It hurts me every time I see a story like this in the news. I’m a father of four and couldn’t imagine losing any one of my own kids. The violence and hate needs to stop. There’s too much other stuff already going on in this world. #JusticeForJunior pic.twitter.com/OdMv9Vs1Uu
— CC Sabathia (@CC_Sabathia) June 23, 2018