NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A Bronx community united Saturday to pay tribute to Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz.
This week marks the one year since the 15-year-old was attacked and murdered by a group of alleged gang members and killed outside a bodega near 184th Street and Bathgate Avenue, reports CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge.
“I’m just glad that they’re doing this to let everybody know to stop the violence,” said Luz Santiago of the Bronx. “It’s very sad for Junior’s mother, I wish I could give her a hug and stuff. I know it’s so much going on, but that’s why I’m here for the community, to help.”
A rally and day of remembrance was held all day Saturday, hosting performances in Junior’s honor and calling to stop violence from happening again.
“To properly mourn a young man that have potential and to many unsung heroes in these neighborhoods, he represents a lot of people who are gone today and future,” said Bishop Eric Brown.
Friends and family honored Junior with a vigil at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, then marched to the bodega where he was dragged out by a group of gang members just before being stabbed to death.
“I’ve got a son and I watch this video over and over, this was one of the greatest tragedies we’ve had in New York City,” said community member Calvin Hunt. “We need to set something up for the teens out here to do something with their idle time.”
People who live in the neighborhood say standing on this spot makes them think about how much “Junior” suffered, but they say last week was a big step forward for justice when the first five defendants were found guilty of murder.
Trinitarios members have said they mistook Guzman-Feliz as a rival gang member. Eight more defendents are awaiting trial.
Community members say they want to see full justice for “Junior” and his family and focus on the future.
“We want to create a group of kids and teenagers that grow up loving each other and helping each other and helping the community,” said Olga Rosario.
The Belmont community says they will make sure “Junior” is never forgotten. The street where he was killed as renamed in his honor, and leaders say they will continue to hold memorials every year.