THE BRONX — Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark was joined Wednesday by NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill and his top chiefs as she formally announced 12 murder indictments in the killing of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman Feliz.
Safety has been in the spotlight since Guzman-Feliz was killedon June 20 outside a Bronx bodega. Since that day, police have arrested a dozen alleged Trinitarios members in the case.
“For our city to achieve true public safety, we need to share responsibility," O’Neill said.
O’Neill’s remark echoed what Clark said at the beginning of the press conference.
“We need your help both to prevent teens from joining gangs and also to say something, if you have information,” Clark said.
Social media provided a “massive treasure trove” of information that led to 12 arrests, O'Neill said. The community outreach was likely due to the graphic nature of the surveillance that showed Guzman-Feliz in the last minutes of his life.
The desperate efforts by Guzman-Feliz to elude his pursuers, who dragged him out of a Bathgate Avenue bodega and then set upon him with knives and a machete, was heartbreaking to watch.
“I’ve got to tell you, I’ve been a cop for nearly 36 years and it’s one of the worst things I’ve ever seen," O’Neill said.
Five of the 12 defendants in court were charged with murder in the first degree, which carries a sentence of life without parole if convicted, because the district attorney said they had tortured the teen by dragging him and using the knives and machete to finish him off.
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea hinted that he wished his investigators were getting the same cooperation on other recent homicides in another borough.
“I’d like to see more outrage 5 to 7 miles south of here in Brooklyn,” Shea said, referring to four unsolved killings of teens there in a week.
Shea pointed out there have been 79 Trinitarios gang arrests in just the last month.
PIX11 News asked O’Neill if he was considering any policy changes in the wake of all the gang activity, perhaps more "stop, question and frisks."
“This morning, we’re down three homicides (from the same period last year) and down 20 shootings. Stop, question, and frisk is an important tool," O'Neill said, though he emphasized that it’s not used in policing like it was in the past.
Chief Jason Wilcox laid out a bit of what happened to Guzman-Feliz on the night he was killed, when he had left his home to pay a “known person” $5.
Wilcox said Junior saw the convoy of four cars.
“They engaged him," Wilcox said. "They exit the car, he sees the threat, and he begins to run.”