NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Police are asking for the public’s help in finding the men they say brutally murdered a teenager in what appears to be a tragic case of mistaken identity in the Bronx.
Investigators say 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, who had dreamed of one day becoming an NYPD detective, was stabbed by members of a local gang following an altercation inside a bodega in the Belmont section Wednesday night.READ MORE: Gov. Lamont Lifts Most COVID Capacity Limits In Connecticut, But Maintains Mask Mandate
Leandra Feliz says her son, also known as Junior, left their apartment to lend someone five dollars but never came back.
“I called him because I feel like ‘you take too long. I said come on, come on’,” the teen’s mother told CBS2. “He said ‘oh yeah mommy, it’s okay I give him the five dollars, it’s okay I’m coming home’.”
Surveillance video shows the suspects enter the bodega at Bathgate Avenue and East 183rd Street, where police say they dragged Lesandro onto the street. The video then shows a man with what appears to be a large knife enter the mix.
He’s one of at least five men police are looking for after they say Lesandro was stabbed repeatedly in the neck.
The teen managed to run to Saint Barnabas Hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
“All of his dreams and everything just got cut short,” family friend Ja’el Dillard said. “He probably didn’t even know why.”READ MORE: 'Isolation Kills, Too': New Jersey Families Beg Governor To Loosen Long-Term Care Facility Visitation Restrictions
Sources tell CBS2 Junior was a member of the NYPD Explorers, a program run by the department which provides young men and women with an introduction to a career in law enforcement.
“His dream was to be a police officer since he was five-years-old,” Leandra said.
Community members gathered outside the bodega, where a makeshift memorial continued to grow Saturday night. Police also set up posters around the neighborhood offering a $25,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest.
Meanwhile, a relative of Lesandro’s who didn’t want his face on camera says a gang member sent a SnapChat message saying the assailants thought Junior was someone else at the time of the attack.
“They’re just saying it wasn’t for Junior, it was somebody else but they confused them and they say sorry and they apologize and they send their condolences,” the relative said. “He’s gone, that doesn’t change anything.”
Instead, Junior’s mom hopes the five men take their apologies straight to the NYPD.
“Apologize, go to the precinct,” Leandra said. “Say ‘I killed this kid, take me to jail’.”
Lesandro’s family opened a GoFundMe account titled “Justice for Junior” which by late Saturday had raised nearly $70,000.MORE NEWS: COVID Vaccine In New York: Yankee Stadium Vaccination Site Now Open 24 Hours
Anyone with information is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or text tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577.