Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was a 15-year-old who went by the name Junior. On June 20th, 2018, a group of men from the Trinitarios Los Sures gang drug Junior out of a Bodega. The gang brutally murdered Junior with knives and a machete because they believed he was part of a rival gang. Junior wasn't in a gang, he was a member of the NYPD's Youth Explorer program because he wanted to be a cop someday.
Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, went by the name Junior. He was a 15 year old that was a member of the NYPD's Youth Explorer program for teens. He was the baby of the family, he was fun and he told his family he was going to be cop because he wanted to chase people.
On June 20th, 2018, a group of men from a gang can be seen dragging Junior out of a Bodega or grocery store and they used knives and a machete to stab the teenager. The video footage is absolutely gut wrenching....the look of terror on this poor boy's face as he's being drug to his death, is beyond anything that my mind can come to terms with. Junior was clinging to the doorframe as he was being drug out of the building, but he didn't stand a chance against a group of men. After the attack, Junior ran back inside the Bodega, soaked in blood, and was told to run to the hospital. He attempted to run to a nearby St. Barnabas hospital, but when he got there, he collapsed near the entrance and bled to death before anyone could help him. The footage is graphic and sent shockwaves through the nation and suddenly, #justiceforjunior was everywhere. Everyone wanted to know why this kid was so viciously attacked and there were three immediate theories.
1)Junior was a gang member or was trying to become one-his mom says this isn't true and friends of his have also said this is untrue.
2)This was a set up and he was lured to his death
On the night of June 20th, at 10:00 PM, Junior left his apartment to meet up with a friend. This person texted Junior and said they needed $5 because they were hungry, so Junior went to give this person the money. At 11PM, Junior's mom called him and said it's time to come home and he said alright. Street cameras picked up Juniors movements after he left the friend's place and he actually made it all the way home, but for some reason, he walked past the apartment building. The $5 kid says that Junior got a text from someone telling him to go to Adams place. This is a nighttime gathering place for kids and it's 5 blocks from Junior's apartment.
The $5 kid went into hiding after Junior's murder. Everyone believed this person set Junior up. They did cooperate with police and this person was ruled out as a suspect very early on. On the documentary MTV's True Life Crime, the $5 kid said Junior was friends with members of the Sunset Trinitarios gang which are rivals of the Los Sures gang that murdered him. The $5 kid later redacted this information and said it was false, they didn't know for sure that Junior was friends with gang members.
Adam's Place happens to have many gang members that hang around. Junior knew a lot people there and it's possible that he was friends with some gang members. Right before he got to Adam's Place, he saw 4 vehicles following him and he was instantly worried. The Los Sures Trinitarios were combing the streets looking for enemies that night. They were driving around just looking for rival gang members to go after. The gang spotted Junior and words were exchanged, and Junior took off running and gang members began chasing him.
The owner of the Bodega has been harassed ever since the murder because when you watch the video of what happened, he didn't really help Junior and he released him to his attackers out of confusion. Junior comes running in the store without shoes and immediately tries to hop over the counter. Junior didn't say anything to the owner of the Bodega and suddenly, a group of guys came barreling through the door behind him. If you're at a store and someone tries to hop over the counter, your first instinct is to stop them and that's exactly what the Bodega owner did. He had no idea what was happening. Most people didn't realize that the Bodega owner attempted to call 911 twice and you can see him dialing in the video. Junior showed up at 11:37, and the owner made the first call to the police at 11:39, so that's two minutes after his arrival. At 11:46, he called the police again and asked why help hadn't arrived yet.
I read a few articles that said Junior's family asked people to boycott the Bodega and this man got many death threats. When I first saw the video footage, I was pissed too. No one helped Junior and the employees all stood around and handed him over to his attackers. You don't hear any audio on the footage that was released and I think is the major problem. It wasn't until later that we found out what the gang members told the owner to get him to release Junior to them. Junior had made it behind the counter and the owner opened the door and let the men take him out. The owner is still getting treatment due to what happened that night. The footage was showed to his mother and she had a heart attack and died.
Junior was murdered by members of the Dominican-American gang Trinitarios in the Belmont neighborhood of the Bronx. The Trinitarios aka Trinitarians are the largest Dominican-American prison and street gang. The group was originally assembled as a way to protect Dominican inmates from other Latino gangs, but the gang evolved into something quite different and are famous for their violent crimes which include robberies, kidnappings, assaults, rapes, and murders. The Trinitarios split off into rival factions battling over territory. The Los Sures Vs. Sunset and the Bronx neighborhood Junior lived in, was their battle ground.
On the night of the murder, the leader of the Los Sures, Diego, gave the orders. He said the group needed to locate members of the Sunset and do what they needed to. Which meant kill them anyway they wanted. Diego made up a code word in his gang. Basically, you pull up on someone and say PoPo or 1090. If you weren't part of his gang, you wouldn't know the correct response. Apparently, this is what the gang yelled at Junior and he didn't know the response because he wasn't part of their gang. That's how they decided he must be a Sunset.
At the Bodega, when the group of men ran in behind Junior, Michael Sosa Reyes told the owner that Junior harmed his grandmother. This was obviously a lie, but he wanted the owner to stop protecting Junior. When Sosa looked at Junior's face, he realized he knew him and he knew he wasn't a Trinitario. Sosa could have stopped everything right there, but he chose not to tell the group that this was a mistaken identity situation. He walked outside immediately and attempted to get the gang out, but it didn't work, they were already pulling Junior out of the store. Sosa walked away while the other gang members brutally murdered Junior.
Five people stabbed Junior. The rest of the guys there never touched him. On the True Life Crime episode, they explained that they were going to use something called Acting in concert: If 2 or more people are acting with a common scheme or plan, you're all equally liable for the crime. A total of 15 people were all out that night acting as one unit, not 15 individuals.
The medical examiner, Dr. Sophia Rodriguez testified that the knife used to deliver the lethal blow went clear through Junior's neck. She said, “The knife made if from the right side to the left, hit the muscle, hit the jugular vein, went behind the throat, and hit the tissue on the back side of the mouth.” Dr. Rodriguez confirmed that Junior could have possibly lived if pressure was applied to the wound before he was brought to the hospital. Junior had multiple wounds on his face, back, chest, legs, and hands. The wounds on his back and legs were consistent with being dragged and he had defensive wounds on his hands from the knife.
A witnes, Tamika Jones said she saw the attack and screamed from the open window of her fifth floor apartment. Junior looked up at her moments after the attack and she told him to run to the hospital. She says, “By the time we got downstairs, he was already in front of the hospital, collapsed. One of my friends took off her shirt and put it against his neck to try and stop the bleeding. He had blood all over his body. He was trying to stay alive, holding his wound himself. His last words were water...he asked for water.”
Jonaiki Martinez Estrella (EstrAya) 25, Manuel Rivera 19, Elvin Garcia 25, Jose Minuz 23, and Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez 25 were convicted of first degree murder, second degree murder, gang assault, and conspiracy. It took the jury eight hours, over the course of two days to deliver the verdict. The men didn't show any emotion as the verdicts were read. Jose Minuz, the guy who used the machete on Junior, shouted, “Popote, hasta la muerte!” This means Trinitarios until death. Martinez was the one who delivered the fatal blow, so he was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Muniz, Santiago, and Garcia, will be eligible for parole after 25 years, and Rivera will be eligible after 23 years.
At sentencing, Junior's mother, Leandra said, “That night, there were two deaths: Junior and I, who was left dead inside. If it were up to me, I would sentence these murderers to 300 years in prison.
Junior's father, Lisandro Guzman explained in court that the weekends have now become just a battle to stay busy because those are the days he used to spend with his son. He told the convicted men, “You will never have the ability to understand the pain you have caused.”
Martinez apologized to Junior's family in Spanish and said, “It was not my intention to cause the death of this kid, but that day, I was under the influence of alcohol and drugs, and I did not know what I was doing.” So, he didn't take responsibility or even use Junior's name, he just said that kid. Real sincere.
Judge Neary said, “Certain words come to mind when I think about your involvement. Senseless is one of these words. Savage is another word. But the one that often comes to my mind is cowardly.” “You and your fellow gang members chased down and slaughtered a 15-year-old, defenseless boy in the most gruesome manner, and we in this courtroom had the misfortune of witnessing it on tape.”
Three years after Junior was murdered, the NYPD gave him an honorary, posthumous promotion to NYPD Explorer deputy chief on the corner where the gang members killed him. NYPD Chief of Community Affairs, Jeffrey Maddrey says he has full confidence that Junior would have continued with the program to help the community.
Junior's sister still walks the path where Junior was murdered and she pours water on the sidewalk for him because that's the last thing he was able to ask for.