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NYC Bodega Owners Want Panic Buttons, Weapons Training To Stop Crime

November 12, 2018 - 1:53 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Bodega owners in New York City want to feel safer so they’re banding together to demand panic buttons in their stores and weapons training from the NYPD.

Owners like Radames Rodriguez say the city’s spats of violence often play out in or outside their businesses.

“I never realized, I never thought about how it’s going to be so dangerous,” Rodriguez told WCBS 880’s Mack Rosenberg.

Rodriguez has owned several stores in the Bronx for 30 years. He says violence has become a norm.

The grizzly gang murder of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz over the summer made him realize things need to change.

“This has been happening long time ago, but now we’re seeing that the crime is getting too close to us,” Rodriguez said.

Modesto Cruz, the owner of the bodega where the teen was murdered, was accused of ignoring his cries for help. Cruz said he was defenseless when the gang members stormed in.

“That guy in the store, maybe he didn’t know what to do in the moment,” Rodriguez said of Cruz. It’s a sentiment many bodega owners share.

Fernando Matteo of the newly formed United Bodegas of America wants to make sure these owners can lend a hand when violence strikes.

 “When you’re being hunted down by a pack of wolves, a pack of thugs, and you want to save your life, you’re going to run into one of our businesses seeking help,” Matteo said.

His group is calling on the NYPD to install panic buttons, give owners Tasers and train them.

The NYPD has not yet responded to WCBS 880’s request for comment.