Mural Unveiled for Bronx Teen Brutally Murdered Outside Bodega
A mural has been unveiled in the Bronx dedicated to Lesandro “Junior” Guzman–Feliz, a Bronx teen who was brutally murdered outside a bodega on June 20.
The mural was unveiled Sunday after a prayer service for the 15-year-old, who had aspirations of becoming a detective with the NYPD, his family said. He was part of the NYPD Law Enforcement Explorers program, which familiarizes youth with careers in law enforcement.
It was painted a block from Lesandro’s home next to an area where he used to play basketball. The artists put 48 unlit candles below a picture of the smiling teen, a reference to the 48th percent where Lesandro lived and died.
The artist, Chris Pyrate, left the candles unlit so that 48 of Lesandro’s family and friends could complete it.
On Sunday, Lesandro’s parents started the process by dipping a finger into yellow paint and pressing it over the wick in remembrance of his life.
15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz’s mother & father leave their mark on a mural dedicated to their son. It has 48 candles; family & friends dipped fingertips in paint & lit candles. It represents 48th #NYPD Precinct. He dreamed of being a cop #JusticeForLesandro #JUSTICEFORJUNIOR pic.twitter.com/ffntT4NJTT
— CeFaan Kim (@CeFaanKim) July 2, 2018
Above Lesandro’s head is a halo-like ring. He has on a New York Yankees jersey with two flowery wings sticking out from the sides. To the side of him is another pair, meant to inspire people to stand with the victim in a symbolic fight against gang violence.
On the day of Lesandro’s death, he was dragged by a group of men who authorities believe are part of the Trinitarios, a Dominican-American gang.
He ran into a Bronx bodega seeking help, but security camera footage shows them dragging him out and stabbing him.
The teen ran back into the bodega bleeding, asking for help. The bodega owner, who recently shared his side of the story with the media, said he pointed him to St. Barnabas Hospital, where Lesandro headed. Lesandro collapsed on the way and was later pronounced dead.
Detectives on the case say his attackers mistook him for someone else, a theory reinforced by a message Lesandro’s sister and brother-in-law said they received from Trinitarios members apologizing for murder.
Eight people have been arrested in connection with his murder, two in the Bronx and six in Paterson, New Jersey.
Seven of them are due before a judge in the Bronx today. They face murder, manslaughter, and gang assault charges related to the slaying.
His death has sparked a conversation in the community about gang violence and how to prevent gangs from luring the borough’s youth into a life of crime.
Lesandro’s family said he was a good kid—he never did drugs, never got in fights, and loved playing basketball and video games. Artist Pyrate said he tried to bring out his personality in his mural.
“I tried to capture his smile in the pictures that I’ve seen him where he looks really happy,” he told ABC 7.
Another mural has been painted for Lesandro on East 184rd Street and Bathgate Avenue, not far from the other one.
This one also shows him in a Yankees jersey and a halo, this one with his nickname “Junior” written on it. It gives his birth date and death date, and words like “love” and “peace.”