Bronx, NY – New York Police Department Explorer Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz was chased down by as many as 20 Trinitarios gang members before he was dragged out of a bodega and hacked to death with a machete on a Bronx street corner, police sources said on Monday.
Investigators have reviewed surveillance footage that captured portions of the 15-year-old boy’s desperate attempt to get to safety, WPIX reported.
The videos have not been released to the public.
The police source said that the eight men charged in connection with Guzman-Feliz’s June 20 murder were alleged members of the Zures crew, which is a smaller clan of the larger Trinitarios gang, WPIX reported.
The gang members were driving around the neighborhood in four vehicles looking for rivals, when they spotted the innocent teen.
Police said that the convoy of vehicles frightened Guzman-Feliz, so he took off running down the street.
He sprinted for several blocks, and even lost his shoes during his frantic attempt to escape.
“He had a pair of sandals when he was running,” the police source said, according to WPIX. “He ran out of his sandals. Police recovered his sandals about a block away from the bodega.”
“We pick up the chase by St. Barnabas Hospital,” the police source said of the unreleased surveillance footage. “They chase him across Third Avenue and down East 183rd Street. That’s when he went into the bodega.”
The teen tried to hide inside the store, but the gang members barged in and dragged him outside.
They then stabbed and hacked Guzman-Feliz with a machete and knives and left him stumbling and bleeding to death on the street corner.
With a gaping wound to his neck, the teen ran towards St. Barnabas Hospital, and collapsed just outside, the New York Post reported.
“They opened a hole in his neck with a machete,” the teen’s grieving mother told the New York Post through tears. “They killed my son like he was junk.”
On Tuesday, the New York Daily News published an editorial composed by New York Police Department (NYPD) Commissioner James O’Neill, in which the commissioner shared his thoughts about the teen who had dreamed of becoming an NYPD detective.
“Gang violence is ugly in any form, but the killing of Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz was an unspeakably savage act,” Commissioner O’Neill wrote. “The depraved indifference to this boy’s life is made all the worse in that the child who the gang was destroying wasn’t even their intended target.”
Commissioner O’Neill, who has served the NYPD for over 35 years, said that the department felt that the teen’s murder was “like losing a family member that we didn’t even know we had.”
“For what it’s worth, we’re going to get that justice,” the commissioner vowed. “We have the perpetrators in custody, and we will build an airtight case against them. None of them will walk away from this.”
Commissioner O’Neill noted that the community members played a key role in identifying and locating Guzman-Feliz’s murderers.
“People in the neighborhoods don’t like the gang members any more than the police do,” he wrote. “They don’t want to live with the terror that they might become collateral damage in some random gang gun or knife battle, or that crossing some gang member will lead to a retaliatory hit.”
“We are in this together, and if we work together, we can win this, nurturing communities that are safe and feel safe too,” the commissioner added.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio shared his thoughts about the loss of the aspiring detective during a graduation ceremony for NYPD’s newly-sworn officers on Monday, WPIX reported.
“Lesandro 'Junior' Guzman-Feliz, as we all know here, got his life cut short so brutally by a gang that knew no decency, no morality,” de Blasio told the crowd. “He was only 15 years old but he was already a part of the NYPD Explorers program… We will remember what he hoped to achieve and we will tell his story to others to inspire them to take his place.”