New York City said their last goodbyes to 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, an avid Yankees fan and aspiring NYC police officer, as his body was laid to rest this Wednesday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in the Bronx. The teen was fatally stabbed by 7+ members of the notorious street gang, The “Trinitarios” on June 20, following a case of mistaken identity. The suspects were arraigned on murder charges less than a week later, after police retrieved surveillance footage showing the men beating and dragging Guzman-Feliz, “Junior” from inside a local bodega, and onto the pavement outside of the store. In plain view, the men proceed to stab the child in the torso, lower extremities, and neck before speeding off in two get-away vehicles.
Junior managed to run to St. Barnabas Hospital where the bloodied teen was met by neighbors and concerned citizens who frantically began treating his wounds. Junior later succumbed to his injuries in-hospital, after a Facebook video surfaced showing police officers observing the ordeal, while citizens attempted to save his life.
“ I want to be strong for him because I want justice,” Leandra Feliz, Junior’s mother, said to the Good Day New York team last Thursday—a day after Junior’s funeral service.
Junior’s family has since expressed their gratitude towards the local and global community, who have come in massive waves since the tragedy, to pay their respects at both junior’s makeshift memorial set up outside the bodega and Wednesday’s funeral service. The details surrounding the teen’s death also captured the hearts of NBA star Carmelo Anthony, and Bronx native and rapper Cardi B, who have each assisted in funeral expenses.
“ I want to thank everyone who supported me,” Feliz continued, before adding that she hopes her son’s killers remain behind bars.
NYC Mayor, Bill de Blasio in conjunction with the NYPD, plans to institute a $5,000 scholarship fund in the fallen teen’s name, after learning Junior was a part of the NYPD Explorers program– a summer camp designed to inspire and guide future generations of NYC cops. The program now intends to use the fund to help sponsor two children each year, and to provide each child with free school supplies and a tuition-free experience.
“There is no better way to honor a young man whose stated dream was to become one of the greatest detectives in the world than by establishing a memorial scholarship in his honor,” Police Commissioner James O’Neill said. Susan Birnbaum, head of the police foundation, seconded the commissioner’s statements and hopes that the initiative will not only encourage many other children like Junior, but also help his memory live on.