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Bronx teen’s stabbing death prompts police to warn gangs of ‘one-way ticket to prison’

Police are investigating two gang-related attacks on teenagers in the Bronx last week.

At a news conference Tuesday, June 26, 2018, in the Bronx, NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said that a total of eight men were in custody for last week’s gang slaying of Bronx teenager Lesandro Guzman-Feliz. Shea indicated that the suspects could face federal racketeering charges. Police expected that all will be charged with murder, although they said precise charges were being worked out with the Bronx District Attorney’s Office. (Credit: News 12 Bronx)

The NYPD has a message for gang members: “You are going to swiftly learn that it is a no-win situation.”

The warning came from NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea on Tuesday as he and Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark offered updates on the investigation into the gang-related killing of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, a 15-year-old member of the police department’s Explorers program who had aspirations of becoming a police officer. Police said it appears his murder was a case of mistaken identity.

Eight men, at least some of whom are believed to be members of the Dominican gang called Trinitarios, have been arrested in connection with dragging Guzman-Feliz out of the Cruz and Chiky Grocery store on East 180th Street in Belmont on June 20 and stabbing him in the neck with machetes, police said.

Purported members of the same gang are also believed to be involved in the stabbing and beating of a 14-year-old boy on a median of the Bronx River Parkway two days earlier on June 18, according to police and a criminal complaint. The teen, an alleged member of a rival gang, survived the attack and was listed in serious condition at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi on Tuesday, according to cops.

“It does appear to be links between that incident and this one,” Shea said, adding that the Trinitarios gang was known to police before these cases.

Clark said the NYPD and borough officials would not tolerate stabbings, shootings or “anything that is continuing to devastate our community.”

As of June 17, there have been 44 murders recorded in the Bronx — up 69.2 percent from the 26 cases recorded in the same time period of 2017, according to NYPD data. In the 48th Precinct, where Guzman-Feliz was killed, there has been a 200 percent increase — up from 1 to 3 — in the number of murders so far this year compared to the time span in 2017, data show.

An NYPD spokesman said in May that there has been an uptick in the number of “gang-related killings” this year, with 12 recorded citywide compared to five at that time in 2017.

Earlier in June, before Guzman-Feliz’s death, NYPD officials had said there was only one confirmed gang-related murder in the Bronx this year, but also warned that some of the murders in the borough with unknown motives could be related to gang activity. A request for current data on gang-related murders in the Bronx was not immediately returned by the NYPD on Tuesday.

“We have ample resources to deal with anyone who wishes to engage in this activity,” Shea warned on Tuesday. “Pick up a gun, pick up a machete, rob an elderly victim walking home from the train, it is a one-way ticket to prison.”

With Alison Fox and Newsday

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