Junior is honored on what would have been 16th birthday as bodega owners seek help in gang fight

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NEW YORK — Bodega owners across the city asked the NYPD to give them training in life saving techniques; their plea came Sunday on what would have been Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz' 16th birthday.

Guzman-Feliz was brutally killed by alleged members of the Trinitarios Gang at a Bronx bodega on June 20. The store workers in that case tried to hide the teen, but he was dragged back outside by the group and attacked with knives and machetes.

“We open our stores every morning not knowing what to expect anymore, not knowing if someone will die during our shift," said bodega owner and United Bodegas of America President Radames Rodriguez. "We have nothing to defend ourselves or our patrons in case of a gang attack."

In a recent instant, a group chased a 16-year-old teen into a Highbridge bodega and beat him once they found him hiding in the back aisle. Bodega owner Edward Lara, armed with a stick, and other store employees chased the attackers off.

He didn't know if they had weapons, but he felt he had to intervene.

The United Bodegas of America group is asking for more to help them in situations like those. They want:

  • Panic buttons that alerts the nearest patrol cars in the area
  • Tasers and the training to use them
  • Pistol Permits for on premise use only
  • Technology for rapid response, video cameras that transmit live feed to precinct
  • Frequent visits from patrol cars
  • Notification of known gangs in the area
  • Training on how to save lives.

“NYPD needs to teach us how to prevent gang attacks," Fernando Mateo, a spokesman for the UBA, said. "Junior’s murder should have taught us to be better prepared in order to prevent tragedies like his from ever happen again. Let's become proactive and learn from past history."

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