New York Lawmakers Push ‘Justice For Junior’ Bills After Uninvolved Teen Slain By Gang


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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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In the wake of the violent death of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, a teenager slain by gang members in a case of mistaken identity, New York lawmakers announced two bills on Tuesday that they say will protect children from violence.

The Safe Havens for Endangered Children legislation, or “Junior’s Law,” was introduced by New York state Sen. Luis Sepúlveda and state Assemblyman Victor Pichardo, both Democrats. It would mandate that small businesses be safe havens for minors who are in dangerous situations, reported PIX11 News.

Guzman-Feliz ran into a Bronx bodega while being chased by suspected gang members but was pulled from the shop and fatally stabbed on June 20. The entire episode was captured on video surveillance. (RELATED: Crowd Overflows At Wake Of Teen Slain By Gang Members In Mistaken Identity Case)

The bodega owner, Modesto Cruz, was recorded pointing at the door when Guzman-Feliz sought refuge there. Cruz says he was pointing the boy to a hospital since police had not yet arrived on the scene. Two calls to 911 were made from inside the bodega, police said according to CBS News.

“The bodega owner where the incident occurred did try to help,” Sepúlveda said according to CBS News. “We want to make sure that any business owner or their employees who encounter a situation involving a minor who has been abused or may be in danger has a duty to try to help.”

The legislation would also create “safe walking home zones” for children walking to and from school that would be supported by local commerce chambers, reported PIX11 News.

Another proposed law would require small businesses with 50 employees or fewer to have first aid kits on hand. Passersby tried to stop Guzman-Feliz’s bleeding with napkins while he lay on a sidewalk, according to cellphone videos.

Guzman-Feliz’s father Lissandro Guzman is behind both sets of legislation, reported PIX11 News.

“I feel very content and with all my heart I hope the bill that carries my son’s name gets passed so it can prevent situations like this from happening again and so we can create more security for our beloved children,” Guzman said, according to a translation from Spanish reported by PIX11 News.

Guzman’s son was targeted by alleged members of the Dominican street gang the Trinitarios. They confused Guzman-Feliz with another teenager having sex with a gang member’s sister in a video circulating on Facebook. (RELATED: Facebook Failed To Remove X-Rated Video That May Have Resulted In Someone’s Murder)

More than a thousand people attended the June 25 wake of the 15-year-old Bronx resident.

Guzman-Feliz, known to his friends as “Junior,” dreamed of being a police officer, said his father Lisandro Guzman. He was working toward that dream as a member of the NYPD-sponsored Law Enforcement Explorers, reported the New York Post. The New York City Police Department created a college scholarship in Feliz-Guzman’s honor for graduates of its Police Explorer Summer Camp, the department announced on June 29.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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