NYPD holds safety meeting with bodega owners

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THE BRONX -- Close to 75 bodega owners and workers signed up to attend the first ever NYPD safety summit for bodegas.

It’s an effort to prevent gang attacks like the one that took the life of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz.

Junior sought refuge inside a bodega when he was being chased by gang members in an apparent case of mistaken identity.

But he was dragged out of the bodega, with few inside trying to help him, and he was stabbed to death.

His brutal death sparked outrage, then debate, over the responsibility bodega workers have for violence that occurs in their stores.

“We want to make sure that what happened to Junior Guzman doesn’t happen again,” Fernando Mateo, spokesman for the United Bodega Owners of America told PIX11.

Among the issues being discussed at this summit, bodega owners want crisis training. They also want panic buttons behind the counter and live surveillance video feeds that would be streamed back to local police precincts.

“Having good lighting and able to see in and out of the windows are two safety features,” Deputy inspector Jessica Corey of the NYPD, told PIX11.

Just three weeks ago, the mother of Guzman-Feliz thanked the owner of another bodega who acted quickly to save the life of another teen in a separate attack.

Edward Lara grabbed a stick to fend off the teen’s attackers and possibly saved his life.

Other bodega owners want to know how to protect themselves and others inside their stores.

“We feel insecure sometimes,” Radhames Rodriguez, President of the United Bodegas of America, told PIX11.

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