A street on the corner of East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue, where 15-year-old Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz was killed in a case of mistaken identity, will be renamed for the slain teenager, Councilman Ritchie Torres announced Monday.
The renamed street sign could depict Guzman-Feliz’s face and the ‘JusticeForJunior’ hashtag, or his involvement with the NYPD’s Explorers program, Torres said. The teenager, who had aspired to a career in the police force, was repeatedly stabbed to death on June 20 after being dragged out of a bodega on the corner of East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue.
Police have arrested 12 suspects in Guzman-Feliz’s murder, all of whom are alleged members of a Dominican gang called Trinitarios. On July 18, all 12 were indicted by a grand jury.
“They are going to pay more for what they did to my son,” Leandra Feliz, the teen’s mother, said, sporting a black dress with a pin of her son’s face while standing against a mural painted in his memory on the street corner of the killing. She believes that her son did not know his killers, Feliz added.
“People are not going to forget the tragedy of how my son was killed and nobody helped him at all,” she said. With the street renaming, Feliz hopes that people will remember her son’s death and try to be better people in the future.
Torres, who will present the proposal to rename the street to the City Council in December, expects a renaming ceremony to take place in January 2019, he said. The purpose of the gesture is to ensure that Junior will never be forgotten, he added.
“The trouble is when you live in the Bronx, you are constantly hearing stories of shootings and violence and you become desensitized,” Torres said. “What happened to Junior was so shocking and tragic that it has awakened us and we have come to realize that’s not something we can become desensitized to.”
Urging community advocates to “stand up,” rather than “stand by,” Torres stressed that Guzman-Feliz, in his death, has had a momentous influence on people across the country.
“His legacy is a moral inspiration to all of us and that’s why he deserves a street renaming,” Torres added.