NEW YORK — NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill called the slaying of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz an “unspeakably savage act” and vowed that “none of (the suspects arrested in the case) will walk away from this” in an op-ed published Monday in the New York Daily News.
The death of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz and the brutal manner in which the Bronx teen lost his life has captured national attention. The June 20 machete killing in front of a bodega enraged the Bronx community and spurred calls of #JusticeforJunior and an end to gang violence.
“Gang violence is ugly in any form, but the killing of Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz was an unspeakably savage act,” O’Neill said. “The images of him being dragged from a store and then repeatedly stabbed and hacked are the definition of horror.”
The teen’s mother Leandra Feliz said her son aspired to become a detective and participated in the NYPD Explorers Program for youth interested in a career in law enforcement.
In his op-ed, O’Neill reflected on Guzman-Feliz’s potential and the feeling of losing a possible NYPD family member.
“The NYPD has been my life’s purpose for more than 35 years, and when I think about what this young man could have been, it breaks my heart,” O’Neill wrote. “We have a family feeling in the department, and Lesandro’s murder is like losing a family member that we didn’t even know we had.”
He stressed the importance of neighborhood policing, and thanked the community for an “outpouring of tips and leads” about Guzman-Feliz’s killing.
An investigation continues into the motive of why several alleged Trinitarios gang members violently dragged Guzman-Feliz from a bodega at East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue, hacked at and stabbed him and left the teen laying mortally wounded in front of the doors of the bodega.
O’Neill said widespread calls of #JusticeForJunior have been heard.
“For what it’s worth, we are going to get that justice. We have the perpetrators in custody, and we will build an airtight case against them. None of them will walk away from this,” he wrote.
He pointed to the importance of neighborhood policing to prevent crime and to help investigators solve crimes, like Guzman-Feliz’s killing.
“We are in this together, and if we work together, we can win this, nurturing communities that are safe and feel safe too,” he wrote. “People in the neighborhoods don’t like the gang members any more than the police do. They don’t want to live with the terror that they might become collateral damage in some random gang gun or knife battle, or that crossing some gang member will lead to a retaliatory hit.”
O’Neill ended his op-ed by detailing how his department is fighting gang violence in the five boroughs, calling it part of their “sacred duty” to protect New Yorkers.
“We track the gangs and their membership. We conduct precisely directed investigations into their criminal activities. We bring in indictments that ultimately send them to prison. And we stanch the violence, as recent drops in crime have demonstrated,” he wrote. “These are essential steps toward healing gang-plagued communities and fulfilling the police department’s sacred duty to work with and protect every neighborhood and all the people of New York.”