Six suspected members of a Dominican street gang who were arrested in New Jersey in connection to the brutal murder of a Bronx teen will be extradited back to New York to face charges.
The six men appeared in a New Jersey court on Tuesday where the judge approved their extradition to New York State to face murder charges over the brutal death of 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz.
The teenager, affectionately known as Junior, was dragged out of a Bronx bodega by a group of men on June 20 before he was beaten and stabbed in the neck with a machete.
Guzman-Feliz, who dreamed of being a police officer, died after managing to run to a hospital at the end of the block.
The gruesome attack was caught on the bodega’s surveillance cameras.
New Jersey authorities raided a Paterson home on Sunday known to be a hangout for members of the Trintarios street gang, which was believed to have been connected to the teenager’s death.
They arrested the six men who faced court on Tuesday. Two other men have also been arrested in New York by the NYPD.
The six men who appeared in court on Tuesday are Jose Muniz, 21, of Paterson; 21-year-old Jose Tavarez, 18-year-old Manuel Rivera, 21-year-old Danel Fernandez and 24-year-old Santiago Rodriguez of the Bronx; and 24-year-old Joniki Martinez of Freeport, New York.
In court on Tuesday, the men mostly stared at the floor as prosecutors laid out the evidence against them. At one point, the judge ordered one of the defendants to look up at him.
Only one of the suspects could speak without the aid of a Spanish translator.
All six waived their right to a hearing, so the judge approved their extradition to New York State.
After the hearing, the men were taken back to Passaic County Jail, where they will be held until New York officials pick them up.
Bronx District Attorney, Darcel Clark, said at a press conference on Tuesday that the six suspects that will be extradited back will be arraigned on Wednesday and face charges of murder, manslaughter, gang assault and assault.
Also on Tuesday, New York officials announced that they had arrested another individual, Elvin Garcia, in the Bronx in connection to Guzman-Feliz’s death – bringing the total number of suspects to eight.
The NYPD already has 19-year-old Kevin Alvarez in custody. The teen appeared in court on Monday and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, including murder, manslaughter and gang assault.
Another person was picked up in the Dominican Republic, but is cooperating with authorities and has not been charged.
Police believe that Guzman-Feliz was targeted in a case of mistaken identity.
The teen was mistaken for a man seen having sex with one of the gang members’ cousins in a Snapchat video, CBS reports.
An alleged gang member is said to have reached out to the victim’s family on Snapchat to apologize over Guzman-Feliz’s murder, a relative said.
The Trintarios gang has developed a negative reputation for violence in the US.
Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said during Tuesday’s press conference in New York that authorities ‘will not tolerate thugs on the street of the Bronx, whether it’s Trinitarios or any other gang.
‘The brutal nature of this crime, we will literally leave no stone unturned until we make sure that we will get justice, that we make sure that everyone involved in this incident are brought to justice.’
In Paterson alone, the gang has been blamed for at least two violent incidents in the last three years.
Last year, the gang allegedly started fights that led cops to shut down the city’s Dominican festival early. In 2015, gang members were accused of stabbing and breaking bottles over a man they thought was a member of a rival group.
The NYPD also released footage on Tuesday, showing a group of suspected gang members stabbing a 14-year-old in the median of the Bronx River Parkway earlier this month.
That victim survived the incident, but remains in the hospital in critical condition after losing a kidney.
His mother says the gang had been after her son since last year, when he broke up with a girl linked to the gang.
Thousands of people attended Guzman-Feliz’s wake on Monday. A vigil is scheduled for Tuesday, followed by a funeral on Wednesday.
A crowd at Monday’s wake outside of R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home chanted ‘Justice for Junior’ and ‘Close the Bodega Down’ as others held a candle lit vigil outside the crime scene.
‘I want to say thank you to everyone. The police are doing a great job with the arrests and I hope that they continue to go to the end and find all of the people who were involved,’ his mother told the crowd.
Guzman-Feliz’s family has called on members of their community to boycott the bodega where the attack took place. They believe the owners could have intervened.
The bodega has remained closed since the attack last week.
A GoFundMe campaign set up to raise money for the teen’s funeral had raised more than $256,000 by Tuesday afternoon.
Bronx-born rapper Cardi B also made a donation of $8,000 under her given name Belcalis Almanzar.
The singer took to her Instagram page over the weekend to express anger over the senseless killing, writing in part: ‘R.I.P. These Bronx streets are ruthless.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Ashley Collman