Calling the murder "nothing less than ferocious," Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark announced the indictments of 12 men accused of killing a 15-year-old boy outside a bodega.
"The defendants were out for violence. They came upon the 15-year-old boy, Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz, chased him into a store, dragged him out and stabbed and slashed him," Clark said of the accused, who are apparently in the vicious Dominican gang, the Trinitarios.
Late on the evening of June 20, Lesandro had ducked into the Cruz & Chiky bodega on the corner of East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue, while apparently being pursued by a group of alleged gang members. Surveillance videos showed the teen being dragged out of the store and then attacked by the suspects, who wielded machetes. Bleeding from the gash in his neck, he died after walking towards St. Barnabas Hospital a couple blocks away.
From the Bronx DA's office:
According to the investigation, on June 20, 2018, the defendants, who allegedly are part of the “Los Sures” set of the Trinitarios gang, gathered at the Boston Road home of Diego Suero, alleged leader of Los Sures, to plan to commit violence against another set of the Trinitarios called “Sunset.” The defendants then travelled in four cars, and came upon the victim, who fled from them, running approximately four blocks to a bodega in Belmont, where he tried to hide.
According to the investigation the defendants are then seen in surveillance footage from
the store cameras entering the bodega, then dragging the victim out of the store as he fought
for his life. When the victim was forcefully taken from the store, five defendants repeatedly
stabbed and slashed him with knives and a machete in the neck and body. The victim ran from the bodega to St. Barnabas Hospital and collapsed near the entrance.
According to the investigation, after the stabbing, the defendants fled and went back to
Diego Suero’s home to hide weapons and provide aid to Elvin Garcia, whose hand was cut in the midst of the multiple stabbings the victim received. Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, Jose Muniz, Manuel Rivera, Danel Fernandez and Jose Tavarez then fled and were ultimately arrested in Paterson, New Jersey on June 24, 2018. Five other defendants were arrested in the Bronx, and one was detained on July 9, 2018 in Connecticut, where he had fled.
When the defendants appeared in court, Lesandro's mother yelled "Asesino!"—assassin—at them.
It's believed that Lesandro, who police have said was not in a gang, was the victim of mistaken identity. The NY Times reports that the night before he was killed, some Trinitarios had targeted a 15-year-old friend who was a member of a rival gang: "The fleeing boy pleaded for Lesandro’s help as he ran, but Lesandro froze, the friend said. The gang members stopped and stared Lesandro down. Then they chased the boy, caught him and bloodied him with knife blows. The boy ran off. Lesandro told his friend that the attack had left him shaken, worried that he had suddenly been implicated in the gang violence. 'He saw that something was going to happen to him, the friend said. 'It happened to him.'"
NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill praised the NYPD Homicide, Narcotics and Gangs Investigation bureaus for their work, "This indictment is an early step in the criminal justice process, so I ask the community to be patient as the case takes it course. The investigation is ongoing. We will not tolerate violence by gangs on our streets. I urge the community to continue to be our partner to save our youth."
But an internal police investigation has been launched into the NYPD response to Lesandro's death, as one person's footage showed the boy bleeding on the street with passers-by trying to help him while officers look on.
Lesandro's mother Leandra Feliz said after the indictment, "He was just a 15-year-old boy, an innocent who was not a gangster. They killed a baby.... They did not kill a man or a gang member. They killed a good boy."