Junior Vigial

Mack Rosenberg/WCBS 880

Bronx Community Holds Vigil For Slain 15-Year-Old

July 01, 2018 - 8:57 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- The Belmont community of the Bronx paused Sunday night to remember Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, the teenager whose dreams of becoming a police officer were shattered by gang violence.

On a 90 degree evening, sweat mixed with tears on the faces of people who walked into Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Some were relatives, some friends, and some didn't even know the teen called "Junior," but everyone knows his story.

"Junior has left a legacy for us and that is he has left us a choice," Father Jonathan Morris said.

A choice not for violence and gangs, but for love and life, Morris said.

"We will put the conditions necessary and with the help of God so other young men and young women -- innocent young men and young women -- are not victims of violence and secondly that innocent young men and young women don't become caught up in the life of violence that led to his death," Morris said.

The 15-year-old's mother addressed the congregation saying, "What we need to do now is work together and stay united to make sure that gangs and gang life in general comes to an end because they don't realize that when they kill a child, that child doesn't come back to their home again."

After the memorial service, hundreds of people walked through the heat to 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue, where Junior was murdered.

On the corner of 184th Street, a mural dedicated to Junior was unveiled.

"Our kids should not have to suffer like this dear Lord God. And I know that you will come, because we need more of you, of God, in these communities, dear Lord. I ask you this in your holy name, dear Lord God and I want your presence. We need your presence, dear Lord God. I don't want people to think that your presence has left us, dear God. But you never leave us, dear Lord God. Even thorough our turmoil, dear Lord God. And /I ask you this in your holy name," a man said in prayer which was answered with a resounding "Amen" by the crowd.

The mural depicts the boy with a smile on his face being lifted up by two wings of flowers. He's wearing a Yankees shirt and a halo above his head.