Lesandro Guzman-Feliz

NYPD

12 Alleged Gang Members Indicted In Murder Of Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz

July 18, 2018 - 1:46 pm
Categories: 

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Twelve alleged gang members were indicted Wednesday in the shooting that left 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz.

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark said five of the defendants – Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, Jose Muniz, Manuel Rivera, and Elvin Garcia – have been indicted by a grand jury on charges of first-degree murder and intentional murder, which included torture.

All 12 defendants have been charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter, second-degree conspiracy, first- and second-degree gang assault, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.

The defendants were arraigned before Bronx Supreme Court Judge George Villegas on Wednesday. If convicted on the first-degree murder charge, the top five defendants could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Lesandro was killed as a result of mistaken identity in a conflict between sects of the Trinitarios street gang, Clark said.

On June 20, the defendants – who are all allegedly part of the Los Sures sect of the Trinitarios gang, gathered at the Boston Road home of Diego Suero – allegedly the leader of the sect – to attack another sect of the gang called Sunset, Clark said.

The defendants traveled in four cars and came upon Lesandro, who fled form them and ran about four blocks to a bodega at 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx.

Lesandro tried to hide, but the defendants were seen on surveillance video dragging him out of the store as he fought for his life, Clark said.

“When the victim was forcibly taken from the store, five defendants repeatedly stabbed and slashed him with knives and a machete in the neck and body,” Clark said.

Lesandro collapsed and died near the entrance to St. Barnabas Hospital, police said.

The defendants fled back to Suero’s home to hide weapons and provide aid to Garcia, whose hand was cut during the attack, Clark said. Six of the defendants were later arrested in Paterson, New Jersey, five in the Bronx, and one in Connecticut.

Lesandro dreamed of becoming a police officer and his death shocked the community.

Police Commissioner James O’Neill said in 36 years as a police officer, the attack on Lesandro was one of the worst things he has ever seen.

“Just the notion that anyone or any group of people somehow thinks that committing such an act in New York City is OK is abhorrent at its core,” O’Neill said.

NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said community outrage was crucial in the quick apprehension of the defendants, and he would like to see more outrage elsewhere in the city where gang violence has been happening. He noted that four teens have been murdered in Brooklyn just this week.

“I think outrage is a good thing, and it can be used as a tool, and I’d like to see a hell of a lot more of it,” Shea said.

Meanwhile, a new law proposed by city and state lawmakers and named for Lesandro would require small businesses to protect children in danger.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported Tuesday, Junior’s Law would require businesses to and so-called safe haven zones to be the first line of defense for children who are being threatened.

“Are we asking them to be police officers? No,” said Bronx Councilman Andy King (D-12th). “We’re asking them to be responsible parents, responsible citizens, and show some humanity if someone is in distress.”

Junior's Law has also been introduced on the state level by state Sen. Luis Sepúlveda (D-The Bronx).

“You can’t just profit and not protect the lives of a young 14-year-old or child and act like nothing’s wrong,” Sepúlveda said.

In the confrontation that left Lesandro dead, the owner of the grocery store said Lesandro initially hid behind the counter and he never ordered him to leave.