A 15-year-old boy with dreams of becoming a cop was brutally stabbed and slashed by five men and then, while bleeding to death and trying to save himself by running to a hospital, was filmed rather than helped by onlookers.
Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, known as ‘Junior,’ was mistaken for another person in a murder earlier this week described as “among the most brutal crimes I’ve seen in my 36yr career,” New York Police Department Chief Terence A. Monahan said in a tweet.
A social media movement called #JusticeForJunior has not only been trending since the inexplicable and inhuman attack, but has helped police find the alleged killers. A total of 11 suspects have been arrested and charged in the savage slaying.
The teen’s funeral was held in the Bronx on June 25. But within hours of his death, an at once heartbreaking and haunting memorial bloomed on the street outside the corner store where he was killed. By the time of his funeral, the corner was blanketed in flowers, and hundreds and hundreds of botanica candles were left lit in memoriam.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. A Group of Men Out to Avenge an Alleged Attack on a Girl, Mistook Junior for Her Supposed Rapist, Ambushed Him & Viciously & Repeatedly Stabbed & Slashed the Boy With Knives & a Machete
In the video, a group of men drag the teen out of a bodega in the Belmont section of the Bronx and then, using knives and a machete, viciously stab and slash at him and as he tries to get away, and then drag him back for additional slashing before taking off.
It’s been reported the men conspired to find the boy after a female family member claimed she’d been raped and Junior fit the description of the alleged rapist so they hunted him down but got the wrong person.
“This is the person we lost. not a gang member or someone who deserved it, as the news is currently portraying him right now. he was innocent and sweet. 🧡 spread this pic to let everyone see who we actually lost. the 45 will miss you forever 💔😪 @NYPD45Pct #justiceforjunior”
“Watching the gruesome attack of a friend which led to his death was one of the hardest things i’ve ever had to do. it’s a shame that such a sweet, innocent kid with one of the kindest hearts, met such a terrible and horrible death.I love you boy. RIP Junior💔 #JusticeforJunior,” posted Kemani Scott.
The New York Daily News reported that the killers admitted they got the wrong guy and allegedly apologized via Facebook messages.
One of Junior’s family members, his brother-in-law Derek Grullon told the paper messages came from “members of the Trinitarios,” a Dominican street gang, claiming responsibility and admitting, “We had the wrong person,” the Daily News reported.
Los Trinitarios are a notoriously violent gang it’s been reported.
2. Instead of Helping the Dying Teen, People Stood by or Filmed the Attack. Junior Tried to Run to the Hospital & Died
“Our society is so trash, HOW DO YOU WITNESS SOMEONE GETTING KILLED RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU AND JUST FILM IT OR DO NOTHING. I DONT UNDERSTAND #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR,” one post on Twitter read. And there are scores more with the same incongruous and rhetorical question.
“The fact that bystanders watched and cars drove past all while a child was being stabbed to death in the street makes me want to throw up,” Antonio Delotero tweeted.
“It’s so sad I can’t stop watching the videos of that boy in the Bronx it makes me so angry how the owners and workers of the store didn’t help that poor boy how heartless can you be like wtf they could of saved that boys life smh #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR 💔 breaks my heart,” a tweet read.
A petition on Change.org calls on New York City legislators to make filming a violent crime like this one illegal.
“The idea that it takes a village to raise our youth is more crucial today than ever before! A change MUST be made on how desensitized our world has become where pulling out a phone and recording a crime is the first course of action as opposed to calling the police or helping,” the petition reads. “It should be a crime for someone who decides to record and illegal to do so!! Let’s make a change! It starts with one but is accomplished with many!!!”
3. Cops Worked Around the Clock Looking For His Killers & People on Social Media Helped. Eleven Are in Custody & Facing Murder Charges
As of July 6, there were 11 in custody, the NYPD confirmed. Over the course of nearly three weeks, cops, working with the help of the community, rounded up participants seen in the video as well as a driver and a high ranking gang member, it’s been reported.
A perp walk video of suspect Kevin Alvarez, 19, of the Bronx charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, gang assault, and assault, was among the first images of an arrested suspect. The voices of outraged, pained and angry people can be heard as Alvarez, a teen himself, hangs his head while being escorted by detectives.
It was reported that even family members of some of the suspects provided information. Initial reports said one of the suspects may have fled to the Dominican Republic and according to posted documents, a person was “cooperating” with authorities from the DR and would not be charged.
Meanwhile, police were tipped to a house in Paterson, New Jersey and that’s where, the New York Post reported, six men were arrested and named by the The Passaic County County Prosecutor’s Office: Manuel Rivera, 18; Danel Fernandez, 21; and Santiago Rodriguez, 24, of the Bronx, Jose Muniz, 21, of Paterson; and Joniki Martinez, 24, of Freeport, (Long Island) New York. Two weeks after his murder, a total of 11 have been charged: Diego Suero, 29, and Gabriel Ramirez Concepcion, 26, and Danilo Payamps Pacheco, 21.
NYPD Chief F. Dermot Shea thanked the community for its help and NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill ‘liked’ and retweeted the post; communities of color are sometimes suspicious of police and have concern for their own safety so may not always be forthcoming with tips. Not this time.
“Thank you for the many, many valuable tips,” Shea said. He said police reviewed “each and every tip submitted and (made) significant progress. It’s an expansive investigation with one salient objective: #JusticeForJunior.”
4. Junior Was ‘One of the Good Kids’ & Wanted to be a Police Officer. Bronx Rapper CardiB Donated $8000 to the GoFundMe for his Family, Lala & Carmelo Anthony Visited His Mother & Rihanna Sent ‘Healing Prayers’
In an interview with the Daily News, Junior’s mother Leandra Feliz, 38, said her son was “one of the good kids.”
Junior, a member of the NYPD mentoring program Explorers, “doesn’t even know how to fight,” she said adding he dreamed of being a cop. A scholarship has been set up in Junior’s honor for kids to attend Explorers summer camp.
Feliz told the Daily News Junior “…was one of the good kids in the Bronx. He liked to play PlayStation, he liked pizza, he liked Dave & Busters. He has never been in any fight, never, in 15 years. He was innocent. He never grew up on the streets. He was with me all the time.”
Shortly before Junior’s wake Monday afternoon, his family spoke to the media.
A GoFundMe has been set up for Junior’s family to help pay for his funeral. The goal was $15,000. So far, nearly $180,000 has been raised by more than 7000 people donating what they can afford and for many or most even, they have little themselves, so the list of hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people giving $5, $10, and $20. But there a few larger donations, some anonymous, of a few hundred and a couple of $1000 donations. But the vast majority were small, humble amounts as a way to help. But there have been some big names reaching out, offering donations, prayers and making visits.
Bronx native MC, award-winning rapper CardiB, whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar and the name she used to donate on GoFundMe, gave $8000.
“It hurts me every time I see a story like this in the news. I’m a father of four and couldn’t imagine losing any one of my own kids. The violence and hate needs to stop. There’s too much other stuff already going on in this world,” Yanks pitcher CC Sabathia tweeted.
People are trying to focus on celebrating hie life cut short but also to say enough. There’s a lot of pain to go around. And people who never knew the boy are heartbroken.
“i can’t bring myself to watch the video because it makes me sick to watch children hurt in anyway, but it is sooo beautiful to see all of the love and support going out to this baby’s family from all kinds of people, celebs included. #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR,” tweeted ‘jb’.
Lala Anothony said her way to celebrate her birthday was to visit Junior’s family to celebrate his life. She brought ‘Melo’ Anthony with her.
“”This is what I wanted to do for my birthday today. Thank you to the gram for connecting me to this family. I wanted to offer our love and support to Lesandro “Junior’s” family. His sister @__octobersveryown__ reached out and told me he loved Melo. So I asked Mel to go with me. I can’t imagine this type of pain and sadness. His family is strong and may God bless them forever. Seeing his family smile when we walked through that door is something I will never forget. Putting my arms around his mom is something I will never forget. Being in his room is something I will never forget. Pls go to his sister in laws page @c0co__amor to donate to this family. (& before it starts…we did more than bring jerseys and sneakers) just do what YOU can even if it’s $1.. this family will be in my heart forever 🙏🏽🙏🏽#justiceforjunior #justiceforjunior
And Rihanna posted on Instagram, “Can’t stop thinking about this poor baby boy, and how his family must feel right now! I’m sincerely praying for your healing and #justiceforjunior”
The New York Yankees paid tribute to Junior at the stadium not far from the teen’s Bronx neighborhood.
5. The Alleged Sexual Assault That Led to the Brutal Murder Likely Never Happened. Meanwhile, Residents Say the Bronx Has Been Left Behind
“Everyone killed him. From the girl that lied about being raped, her brother, his gang, store owner, everyone who watched as he got jumped by 5 men, and the man that told him to run to the hospital as he was bleeding to death. Fu*k every single one of y’all. #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR”
The Daily News reported the killing was related to a “a sex tape circulating on social media, which shows a teen boy rapping, while a second teen boy has sex with a teen girl whose face is covered with a shirt.” People in the community on social media said the whole thing was bogus.
A sex tape was posted on Facebook, this despite recent privacy changes.
The Post reported police think a 17-second video clip where a man is having sex with a woman lying on a table “may have led a group of gang members to mistake Guzman-Feliz for a second guy who stands next to the copulating couple and raps, leading the gang to target the wrong person.” The young woman is related to one of the gang that hunted down and slaughtered Junior.
Heavy will not publish the Tweets and Facebook posts of names, photos, phone numbers and addresses of people allegedly involved including the girl or young woman who claimed to have been raped, but the posts are public and easy to locate.
Meanwhile, Bronx Borough president Reuben Diaz Jr. said he met “the family of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz and lit a candle in his memory. Our borough mourns the loss of this promising young man, and stands with the world in calling for his murderers to be made to answer for their crimes.”
While on the street, Diaz was greeted by residents and the press. And they had questions.