NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A 15-year-old boy who police said was stabbed to death last week in the Bronx was remembered Wednesday for always having a bright smile on his face and his volunteer work in the community.
Calls for “Justice for Junior” rang out as the father of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz helped carry his son’s casket.
The teen’s mother stood strong outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church where the family regularly attended Mass, but instead Wednesday said goodbye to their beloved son known as Junior.
The boy’s father was among loved ones wearing Yankees jerseys, a team his son passionately cheered for. Guzman-Feliz was remembered as a cheerful kid who loved pepperoni pizza, video games and had a passion to one day become a police officer.
“He wanted to save people,” said John Grace, an auxiliary police officer with the 45th Precinct. “That was his desire to become a cop.”
But that goal was cut short. A priest close to the family said they are still trying to cope with the teen’s horrific death.
“Here’s a mother going through the most difficult thing anybody could go through,” Father Jonathan Morris told CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge. “She wants justice for Junior but also saying no to retaliation, saying no to vengeance.”
“She’s really missing her son. I think it’s finally hit her, and she’s finally broken down,” said Bishop Fernando Rodriguez. “She’s destroyed.”
No vengeance against the eight alleged Trinitarios gang members who police say chased the teen down last week, believing he was the one seen in a Snapchat video allegedly having sex with a cousin of one of the alleged gang members.
Police said the teen was dragged out of a bodega and stabbed in the neck. Cell phone video shows Guzman-Feliz running to reach the hospital one block away, but he collapsed and died outside the emergency room.
“Really affecting me,” said Belmont resident Victoria Perez. “I cry every single day because it’s like you don’t have to know somebody to feel their grief and pain.”
“My heart is torn for the family, for that little boy. He didn’t deserve that,” family friend Yolanda Ramos said.
Kevin Alvarez, 19, Elvin Garcia, 23, Jose Muniz, 21, Jose Tavarez, 21, Jonaiki Martinez-Estrella, 24, Daniel Fernandez, 21, Manuel Rivera, 18, and Antonio Hernandez-Santiago, 24, face several charges, including murder, manslaughter and gang assault.
Every night since his death, the crowd outside the bodega where the teen was killed has grown so large, it has shut down the street.
Members of the teen’s family went back to the memorial following Wednesday’s funeral to light more candles for “Junior.” They asked for privacy as the 15-year-old’s loved ones continue to grieve.