Hundreds of people gathered at a Bronx church Wednesday morning to pay respects to the Bronx teen who was murdered outside a bodega in a case of mistaken identity last week, as six suspects extradited from New Jersey were charged in his murder.
Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, 15, was dragged out of the store and stabbed repeatedly with machetes in the gang-related attack, caught on video on June 20. Eight men, some of whom are alleged members of the Dominican gang Trinitarios, have been arrested in connection to the murder.
Family and friends filed into Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Belmont just after 9:30 a.m. His father, Elisandro Guzman, touched the coffin, which was covered in a white cloth, before taking his seat.
Uniformed members of the Police Explorers, the NYPD youth program that Junior belonged to, occupied more than a dozen pews, while other mourners wore Yankees apparel or shirts displaying #justiceforjunior. A solemn “Hallelujah” rang out in the church at the beginning of a ceremony that lasted just under 90 minutes.
As the coffin was carried outside, pallbearers were greeted by the hundreds more who had gathered, chanting “Justice for Junior!”
Outside, Bronx resident Maryrose Mangini, 56, said she used to live across the street from where the attack happened.
“Just to see the videos and what this boy endured and how people did not help him, I can’t,” she said. “I’m just lost for words. I just want this violence to stop and justice for Junior.”
Fellow Bronx resident Ada Laureano, 74, said her nephew went to school with Guzman-Feliz.
“This touched the whole world,” she said. “I just feel that this is the only place that I could be today to pay my respects to this child who died so tragically. My heart is broken.”
Wakes on Monday and Tuesday offered others the opportunity to gather and remember the 15-year-old as the eight suspects were arrested.
On Sunday 19-year-old Kevin Alvarez, of the Bronx, was arrested in the city and charged with murder, manslaughter, gang assault and assault, and on Tuesday 23-year-old Elvin Garcia, 23, of Manhattan, was arrested and charged with murder, manslaughter and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
On Wednesday, the six suspects taken into custody in Paterson, New Jersey, were brought to New York and charged with varying offenses. Joniki Martinez, 24, of Freeport, New York; Jose Muniz, 21, of Paterson; and Antonio Hernandez-Santiago, 24, of the Bronx, were charged with several offenses, including first-degree murder, manslaughter, and gang assault, police said. Charges against Danel Fernandez, 21, of the Bronx, Manuel Rivera, 18, of the Bronx, and Jose Taverez, 21, of the Bronx, included second-degree murder, manslaughter and gang assault.