On Friday (June 14), five people were convicted of the murder of 15-year-old Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz.
Antonio Rodriguez Hernandez Santiago, Jonaiki Martinez Estrella, Jose Muniz, Manuel Rivera and Elvin Garcia were found guilty on all four counts they faced, including first-degree murder, second-degree murder, conspiracy and gang assault.
Prosecutors claim the men were members of the Trinitarios gang and mistakenly believed the victim was part of a rival gang. In June 2018, Guzman-Feliz was seen on surveillance footage being dragged out of a convenience store before he was surrounded and attacked by the five men. They reportedly used knives and even a machete during the attack.
Junior then ran to the hospital where he later died. After the tragic incident, Guzman-Feliz’s family and supporters began the hashtag #JusticeforJunior.
The victim’s 17-year-old sister Genesis Collado-Felix said a statement to the New York Post, “He tried to run into the store because he thought he’d be safe. They dragged him from the store like a dog… They were grown men and he was only 15.”
On Thursday, jurors asked to rewatch the graphic surveillance footage and to rehear testimony alleging the murder was planned to target a member of the rival Sunsets gang, according to CBS New York.
Lesandro Guzman-Feliz reportedly aspired to become a police detective and was a member of the NYPD Explorers program for high school students. New York police commissioner James O’Neill was among the hundreds who attended his wake last year.
“My son was a good kid. He only was 15 years old. He was doing the best in the school at the time when that tragedy happened,” Leandra Feliz, Junior’s mother, said after the verdict was announced. “He was in the Explorers program. He was a really good kid. He had never been into any problem in his life until those killers murdered my son.”
The five convicted men could face life in prison during sentencing next month.