A Bronx shopkeeper who faced public scrutiny for not doing more to assist a murdered teenager has spoken out with his side of the story.
Surveillance footage has also emerged of the horrific incident in which violent gang members killed 15-year-old Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz on June 20 outside Modesto Cruz’s bodega.
Guzman, who aspired to be an NYPD officer, was slain in an alleged case of mistaken identity.
Eight suspected members of notorious Dominican street gang Trinitarios have been arrested and charged with murder.
Cruz said, as per the MailOnline:
I just feel very, very bad. I was closing the store, I already passed the key to close the store, when somebody go and jump over the counter.
My first reaction was stop it. When he got down I recognised him… When he told me “They looking for me”, I help bring him down. But he was so scared, and I remember his face.
CCTV footage shows Guzman rush into the store and try to jump over the counter to hide. Cruz momentarily stops him until realising the nature of the situation and helping Guzman over the counter.
The stabbing murder of this young man is among the most brutal crimes I’ve seen in my 36yr career. @NYPDDetectives are working hard to capture these killers, but we also need your help. Watch this video and call #800577TIPS with any information you can provide. #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR pic.twitter.com/h6QxmGtEsx
— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) June 23, 2018
I tried to hold him down, and he jumped up. The other people coming for him, they saw him.
We let them take him out… we scared at the moment, we under panic.
At that moment [if] we continued to resist the situation, we’re gonna get cut. There was too many young kids for only two people.
Guzman then leaps over the counter in an attempt to flee as the gang members enter the store. They grab him by his shirt collar and drag him outside where he is brutally stabbed numerous times.
Prosecutors say the suspects mistakenly believed Guzman was a man seen having sex with a gang member’s love interest on Snapchat.
Watch as Cruz attempts to hide Guzman:
Surveillance from inside a Bronx bodega shows the moments Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz tried to hide before his brutal murder. The bodega owner says he didn’t immediately realize what was happening, but some say he could have — should have — done more. https://t.co/wQh1epENMa pic.twitter.com/3GiGUN7Vr8
— Eyewitness News (@ABC7NY) June 30, 2018
Guzman can be seen running back into the store bleeding. The shopkeeper’s assitant then points towards the door as Guzman walks back out. It was a move that infuriated the public.
But Cruz insists he wasn’t kicking the teen out, but merely advising him to go to a nearby hospital round the block as the ambulance was taking too long.
Cruz’s attorney said at the Friday press conference:
To ask the question could he have done more after the fact, he didn’t know that these guys were gonna kill him.
So the first thing in the minds of all the people calling for the closing of the store, they should know that he didn’t know they were gonna kill him.
Eight men were arrested and charged in the murder. They are: Jose ‘Canelito’ Muniz, 21, Elvin Garcia, 23, Jose Taverez, 21, Manuel Rivera, 18, Danel Fernandez, 21, Joniki Martinez, 24,Santiago Rodriguez, 24, and Kevin Alvarez, 19.
There’ve been arrests in the murder of Lesandro Guzman-Feliz. This has been a team effort between dedicated @NYPDDetectives, our law enforcement partners & you, the public we serve. This is still an active investigation. Call #800577TIPS with info. We will have #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR. pic.twitter.com/4HGYHwQHFa
— Chief Terence Monahan (@NYPDChiefofDept) June 25, 2018
Alvarez’s attorney, Manuel Portela, released the following statement:
Up until this day, he had no criminal history. And this is based on a fingerprint analysis. He had no history of violence. He lived with his mother and brother, supporting them.
And he was in the US military, and he received a medical honorary discharge… I ask that the public continue to allow the judicial system, prosecution and the defense to fully investigate this case.
What a horrible, senseless death. Our thoughts are with the family of Guzman at this time.
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