What to Know
- The Bronx bodega where Lesandro Guzman-Feliz was dragged from to his death now has new owners
- The OCME said Junior’s June 20 death was a stab wound to the neck and classified the death as a homicide
- Alleged gang members have been indicted on murder, manslaughter, conspiracy and other charges
A once bustling Bronx bodega that serves as a reminder of a heinous crime has changed hands, and those new owners are offering to honor the victim but the parents of the teenager killed there want just one thing instead.
The new owners have offered to name the corner store after Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, also known as "Junior." However, Junior's parents don't want a name change, but instead a different concept: Safety.
"I don’t want to put his name here," Lisandro Guzman, Junior's father, said. "I don't celebrate this corner or this bodega that killed my son."
Junior's June 20 slaying has captivated communities nationwide, partly because the brutal attack was caught on surveillance video. The teen is seen being dragged outside the bodega and attacked by a gang of men who stabbed him with knives and hacked him with a machete as he struggled to defend himself.
The boy was slashed in the neck and died after running to a hospital three blocks away.
It still pains Junior's mother to walk past that block, a corner she says is "evil."
“When I pass over there I feel my knees shaking from the bottom of my feet,” Leandra Feliz said. “I feel my blood running everywhere and I feel like I am going to faint.”
In the days after the killing, the bodega's owner received death threats and feared for his safety. The community felt he could have done more to help Junior and the bodega had been shut down since the gruesome attack.
It's not clear what happened to the former owner, but he told News 4 last month that he tried to help save the 15-year-old boy.
By Thursday, the "Cruz and Chiky" signange indicating the old owners' name on the store had been taken down. Information on the new owners wasn't immediately available, but Junior's parents aren't moved by the offer to rename the store for their dead son.
"This is an evil corner," Feliz said. "In a few years we are going to see another death at that corner."
Neighbors also remain uneasy about the move to reopen the store under new management, and some are even calling for a boycott of the new store. Community members are planning on meeting there next Monday evening to call for a boycott of the new store and to demand that it remain closed.
"Keep it closed for a little longer," said Angela Vargas.
"It takes a while to get back to normal, because people are still angry," said Malcolm Lenford.
But Beverly Durant said, "It is time. It is time. Yes, we are hurting because of what happened but we need to settle down and get back to normal."
Feliz did attend an event in support of a separate proposal to rename a Bronx street for her son.
The bodega's offer comes a day after the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner officially announced the cause of death for Junior, saying he died from a stab wound to the neck and classifying the case as a homicide.
A dozen alleged gang members have been indicted in the case. They're due back in court Oct. 25.
Guzman-Feliz had been part of the NYPD's Explorers program, a group for youths interested in a law enforcement career. The New York City Police Foundation announced it planned to set up a scholarship in his name.