On Wednesday evening, 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz walked into a deli in the Bronx. Moments later, half a dozen gang members dragged the teen out of the store and fatally stabbed him in a vicious attack that was caught on surveillance video.
The men fled, escaping in a van, while Guzman-Feliz ran to St. Barnabas Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, the New York Post reported.
As of Monday, seven suspects have been arrested in connection to the teen’s slaying, according to local reports. Trinitarios, the gang that allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack, said Guzman-Feliz was not their intended target, and they’d mistaken him for someone else they’d planned a hit on, according to the New York Post.
Guzman-Feliz’s tragic death has left his family—and community—reeling.
“My hope is that we can use his tragedy to make this world a better place, for kids like him and even for other grown men,” the teen’s devastated sister, Genesis Collado-Feliz, told The Daily Beast.
She described her sibling as an upbeat, baseball-loving teen who was a member of the NYPD’s Explorers program and aspired to becoming a detective one day.
“I barely saw him mad. He was always smiling,” she said. “He wanted to have the nice cars so he could chase people down.”
The Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office arrested 21-year-old Jose Tavarez, 18-year-old Manuel Rivera, 21-year-old Daniel Fernandez, 24-year-old Santiago Rodriguez, 21-year-old Jose Muniz, and 24-year-old Jonki Martinez on Sunday.
New York police also arrested 19-year-old Kevin Alvarez on Sunday, charging him with second-degree murder and gang assault, according to CBS 2. An investigation into the boy’s death is ongoing, according to police.
“Thank God they were caught,” Leandra Feliz, Guzman-Feliz’s mother, told CBS 2. “It’s good because they have to pay but I want my son back. If they could give me the life of my son I’d be happy.”
Three suspects were tracked down in Paterson, New Jersey, while two others were taken into custody in the Bronx, according to CBS 2. The gang members allegedly hacked and stabbed Guzman-Feliz’s body with knives and a machete.
The man who wielded the machete delivered the “death blow” to Guzman-Feliz, according to his mother. “In the neck, in the main artery going through heart,” Feliz said, according to the New York Post.
The teen’s death has been memorialized by the likes of Rihanna and Cardi B, who both took to Instagram to call for justice.
Rihanna said she “can’t stop thinking about this poor baby boy, and how his family must feel right now! I’m sincerely praying for your healing and #justiceforjunior.”
“R.I.P. .These Bronx streets are ruthless,” Cardi said in a post. The rapper, a Bronx native, reportedly donated $8,000 to a GoFundMe campaign dedicated to his family’s funeral expenses. The fundraiser has since raised over $190,000.