BRONX TIMES REPORTER, F 6 EBRUARY 1-7, 2019 BTR
Junior’s friend, Tango outside of the bodega during a memorial.
Schneps Community News Group/ Alex Mitchell
Justice for Junior bodega
becomes fi rst ‘safe haven’
BY ALEX MITCHELL
It might not entirely be Justice for
Junior, but it is a step in the right direction.
The notorious bodega that 15-yearold
Lesandro ‘Junior’ Guzman-Feliz
was brutally murdered outside of at
the corner of East 183rd Street and
Bathgate Avenue became the fi rst
‘safe bodega’ in the Bronx and the
city on Wednesday, January 23.
Working collaboratively with the
NYPD, the United Bodegas of America
designed a multi-step program
that would equip bodegas with panic
buttons, shatterproof glass and other
measures that could prevent an attack
from continuing and essentially
save an innocent life.
Each installation costs between
three and four thousand dollars.
This safe haven bodega concept
comes from criticism after surveillance
video had shown Junior run
into the store, attempting to hide
from the gang members behind its
counter space, only to be dragged out
of the store to his untimely death on
Wednesday, June 20.
One feature that the safe haven
bodega program offers is that it gives
the NYPD the ability to monitor its
security cameras in real time.
Just weeks ago, the DA’s offi ce began
introducing a similar surveillance
camera intranet program to
expand its presence on Bronx streets,
taking much inspiration from Junior’s
Senator Luis Sepulveda also spoke
outside of the bodega on Tuesday,
July 10, announcing his proposed
‘Junior’s Law’, which refl ects the safe
haven concept that was recently enacted.
Elected offi cials aren’t the only
individuals that wanted to see a safe
haven program come to fruition,
Junior’s father, Lisandro Guzman
spoke highly of Sepulveda’s proposed
bill, saying “I hope this bill that carries
my son’s name gets passed so it
can prevent situations like this from
On the two-month anniversary
of Junior’s death, his mother Leandra
Feliz and many more returned to
that cursed corner, refl ecting on her
son’s life and calling for a safe haven
to be created in the neighborhood.
“I still can’t believe what happened,
it still doesn’t feel real to me,”
said Junior’s mother. “There’s been
so much to process with this that
I simply haven’t yet,” the grieving
Leandra went on to share the fi nal
memories that her and Junior had
shared, which came just moments before
the gruesome attack.
“He called me right before, he said
he was running downstairs to give
a friend fi ve dollars, but he was taking
too long so I called him back and
the last thing he said to me was “I’m
coming back now mommy,” that was
the last thing that my son ever said to
me,” she said.
Just about every day now, she goes
to her son’s fi nal resting place in St.
Raymond’s Cemetery to refl ect on Junior’s
life and the years of memories
that the mother and son had shared.
While the bodega has changed
ownership and management since
the tragedy, the grieving mother continues
to feel the pain that the events
of that day have permanently etched
into her memory.
“This is a corner of death, I’ve
lived in this area for 17 years and this
is a troubled intersection, we need a
safe haven,” Leandra said.