NEW YORK — Had he lived, Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz would have celebrated his 17th birthday last week. He would have been looking toward his graduation, after his senior year at Dr. Richard Izquierdo High School in the Bronx.
Instead, Guzman-Feliz’s grave at St. Raymond’s Cemetery was decorated with New York Yankees memorabilia by his mother’s friend, Jennifer Wiesel-Lillo.
Leandra Feliz — Guzman-Feliz’s mom — couldn’t bear to be at the cemetery Nov. 11, her son’s birthday.
“I didn’t want to see him under the grave for his birthday,” Feliz told PIX11 during her Monday night appearance on the “Mary Murphy Files.”
This is the second birthday that has passed since 15-year-old Guzman-Feliz was fatally stabbed by Trinitarios gang members outside a Bathgate Avenue bodega in June 2018, following a mistaken identity chase.
Despite the image of strength Feliz presents to the public, she told PIX11 she has dark moments.
“I think my heart is going to break, and I feel it’s God grabbing me inside,” she said.
When asked if she feels her son’s presence, Feliz said, “In the heart. It’s inside.”
Feliz sat through the first murder trial in her son’s case this year, and watched five members of the Los Sures set in the Trinitarios gang get convicted and sentenced.
Four of them are receiving more than 20 years to life in prison. The stabber who inflicted the fatal neck wound, Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, was sentenced to life without parole.
The still-grieving mother continues to work as a housekeeper in the intensive care unit at St. Barnabas Hospital, the same facility where her son bled to death outside the emergency room, his dying words for “water, water.”
Feliz said work is a form of therapy for her.
“It helps me because it keeps me busy and I don’t think too much,” Feliz told PIX11.
But she has constant reminders of the violence that ended her son’s life.
“I see everyday all the trauma coming in,” Feliz said. “Gunshot, stabbing, accidents.”
When asked about the NYPD arrests of 15 alleged gang members, two days before the October 11th sentencing of her son’s killers, she replied, “They are working and cleaning up the streets.”
Feliz has been part of a recent crusade to pass Junior’s Law, which would provide panic buttons to bodega owners in the event of an emergency where police are needed and there’s no time to call 911.
“We need the panic button, because the panic button is a machine connected to the police department,” Feliz said.
Over the summer, Feliz helped dedicate Camp Junior at Harriman State Park in her son’s name. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. helped secure a million dollars in state funding for the program.
Feliz made multiple visits to meet with young campers from the Bronx.
“They see me as an inspiration,” Feliz said, “and they feel Junior.”