Saturday, June 23, 2018

NYPD Explorer 15 Year old Lesandro Guzman Feliz Killed in the Bronx

Many of you know that I am from the Bronx. I was born in Manhattan, but spent most of my younger days in the Bronx. The Bronx is known for many things.  Unfortunately, violence is one of those things. Despite claims from the NYPD and Mayor Di Blasio that crime is on the decline, things in reality seem different.

A young boy of 15 years of age was brutally attacked on Bathgate Avenue and 183rd Street in my beloved borough. He was chased by 5 thugs who had machetes and knives as weapons. The thugs are grown men taller than the young 15 year old.


These cowards chased the boy into a bodega after stabbing him. The young boy tried desperately to hide behind the counter of the bodega and was removed by the workers. Immediately, his attackers apprehended him and dragged him out of the bodega. Bodega workers looked on and allowed this. One even gestured with his hands "get out." Outside, cameras captured the cowards beat, stop, hack at and stab the young boy.  They ran off like the cowards that they are into cars and sped off.  The young boy was left there bruised and bloodied. He tries to enter the bodega for help and the door is shut on him. He tries on more time to show his valor by making gestures at his attackers which want looked like mangled arms and hands, possibly from the hacking of the machete. The young boy immediately realizes he is in trouble physically and seems to remember that St. Barnabas Hospital is nearby.  He makes a run for it crossing the street.  Unfortunately, due to loss of a lot of blood, the young boy collapses in front of the hospitals.  People look on him. Instead of helping him stop the bleeding, the take out their cell phones and record.  He succumbs to his injuries leaving loved ones and now a nation in heart break.

The news has spread globally and has brought about outrage. According to police, the boy was mistaken for another boy who posted a sex video of the cousin of one of the attackers. To add insult to injury, the attackers gloated on social media about the attack.  Eventually, some actually messaged the brother in-law of the young boy apologizing and stating that they got the wrong guy.  This and the many tips called in to the police led to the arrest of 7 individuals.  An 8th is in the Dominican Republic and is cooperating with the police.

This tragedy has touched many, including myself. The young boy's name is Lesandro Guzman Feliz, also known as Junior. He was not involved in gangs. In fact, he was part of the NYPD Explorer's program, a program geared towards teaching kids about law enforcement. My nephew participated in the program. As the saying, the world is small. I came into contact with Lesandro at the precinct when I was in the Bronx and went to pick up my nephew. When I saw his face on the news, I knew I had seen it somewhere before.  The news is just depressing. Young Lesandro wanted to be a detective and had his whole life ahead of him.

Many have flocked to the bodega and made a make-shift memorial. Hundreds of candles, plush toys and other things now gather at the site. Bodega managers claim that they were threatened by the cowards who attacked Lesandro, however, new video shows that they actually gave Lesandro up to them as he tried to hide behind the counter of the bodega. It is just heartbreaking to watch the videos posted all over social media.  The face of Lesandro as he is being dragged outside is very telling of how terrified he was. Just seeing it breaks my heart. I am not a very emotional person, but this tragedy has taken sleep away from it.  To see this young boy slaughtered in a way that not even cattle or sheep are slaughtered is disturbing.  What has society come to?

Thousands have come to the make-shift memorial to pray and show support for the family and Lesandro.  Many more are expected at his wake on Monday and Tuesday at Ortiz Funeral home on 149th Street in the south Bronx. 

A petition has garnered over 50,000 signatures calling for the shutting down of the bodega that did not offer shelter to young Lesandro. I urge people to boycott is and sign it as well. What the workers did was truly inhumane.

I want to offer my condolences to the family of Junior. This story is truly heartbreaking and has touched Bronxites and everyone who has heard of it.  We must end this violence. Our own Catholic Church has failed to reach out to the young people on the peripherals. We cater to the youth already in our pews but forget there are many outside of the Church who need guidance. We do not go out to them and invite them. I have tried to do this during my time doing ministry in the Bronx and have been successful. However, others need to do the same.  When good is not around for the youth, evil is always ready to invite them. 

Young Lesandro was killed over mistaken identity. He was killed because of teens having premarital sex and recording it on social media as if sex is some sort of pastime. Again, we have failed to teach our youth to respect themselves and life.

I am so sorry Lesandro that you face this evil.  If I were there, I would have helped you!  Rest in peace Junior!


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