BRONX, N.Y. — As a memorial grew outside a Bronx bodega where a promising young life was cut short, hundreds of mourners came out Tuesday to retrace the final steps taken by a 15-year-old boy after he was mortally wounded in a brutal machete attack.
The candlelight vigil and march came the evening before the teen’s funeral.
Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz was killed on June 20 by reputed members of the Trinitarios gang in an apparent case of mistaken identity.
He was dragged out of a bodega on East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue and and set upon by a gang of men who hacked at him as he struggled to defend himself. He was slashed in the neck.
Video shows Guzman-Feliz running back into the bodega, pleading for help. When it appears he didn’t get the help he so desperately needed, he took off running to a hospital three blocks away, collapsing in the street.
Outrage has grown, aimed at the store for allegedly refusing to help the teen.
Since his death, "Justice for Junior" has become a battle cry in a community fighting for change.
"I want to feel safe," resident Layla Melendez said. "I live one block away. I don't want to be walking down the street and fear for my life."
Another mourner remember Guzman-Feliz as a "very postive-vibe person" who "would just make you feel better."
The bodega has been closed since Guzman-Feliz’s death. A petition is circulating calling for it to be permanently shuttered.
A team of detectives that Guzman-Feliz dreamed of one day joining are continuing to make strides in their investigation. Eight men, all of whom are suspected members of the Trinitarios gang, have been arrested in connection with the killing.
Investigators have warned gang members that they will “leave no stone unturned” in this case and “will not tolerate” gang violence in the Bronx or elsewhere.
Also on Tuesday, six suspects waived extradition in New Jersey and will be brought back to New York City to face charges and investigators announced that an eighth suspect had been taken into custody.