The owner of the Bronx Bodegas, who was accused of standing heartless while an innocent teenager was pulled out and slaughtered, broke his silence on Friday – apologizing to the family and saying that he had done everything he could to help To help boys.
I just feel very bad, "said Modesto Cruz, the owner of Cruz and Chiky store in Tremont, to reporters alongside his lawyer in a long interview in Spanish and English.
Cruz and his workers in East 183rd Street and Bathgate Avenue has come under fire after being accused of not intervening on the 15-year-old boy before the knife-and-machete attack of June 20, which would end the life of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz. [1
Surveillance videos from the bodega captured Guzman-Feliz to hide from the pack of suspected members of a Dominican gang as Trinitarios.
In the footage, a worker seems to stop the teenager, but Cruz claims he was trying to help the boy.
"I closed the shop. I've already handed the key to close the shop when someone goes off and jumps over the counter, "Cruz said in broken English." I tried to hold him. I do not know what's going on when he told me they're looking for him. "
" I remember his face. He was so scared and I tried to hold him down, "Cruz said, referring to Guzman-Feliz.
Cruz added that he" panicked "along with the only other worker in the store that night.  The Bodega owner claimed that once the thugs dragged Guzman-Feliz out of the store, his first phone call to the 911 was made at 11:39 pm
"I spend four minutes [on the phone] with the operator", Cruz said, "I said, 'Please, send the police. "It took four minutes."
Cruz's lawyer Francisco Serrano claims that his client also made a second distress call.
"He responded with the knowledge that he had at that moment," said Serrano. "He's not a cop, he's not trained to defend himself, how many grocers are killed in the city of New York?"
Serrano said Cruz "tried to hide the child" before the alleged gang members stormed in and the shopkeeper said, "do not get involved"  "At this moment, we have further assessed the situation," Cruz said. "There were too many young children … we are only two people, we have nothing – no weapon, what will they do with us at this moment, they will kill us … I'm scared right now, there was a lot People. "
His lawyer continued that Cruz" did what was humanly possible to save this child's life … in my view, he was a hero, trying to save the child
"What does the community want?" Serrano asked. "Three deaths versus one?"
"We respect and are saddened by what happened to this boy, but we are not responsible for That's what happened that night, "Serrano said," It's not [Cruz’s] blame that this kid was killed and he did not know these guys would kill that kid … I think we all would have in the same form and manner reacts. "
Serrano added," We're talking about 90 seconds, and they want to that he develops a determination and puts his life at risk, which he initially did. "
The press conference comes a few days after a trio of city council members shut down the shop Cruz and Chiky
" An owner standing idly while a 15-year-old is dragged out of his shop and murdered in cold blood with a machete, is no longer worth doing business in NYC, "article council members Ritchie Torres, Vanessa Gibson, and Rafael Salamanca on Monday called on the Consumer Affairs Bureau, Lorelai Salas, to extort the Deli's business license
Another surveillance video from the store shows the fatally wounded teenager in the Deli after the
Serrano claims Cruz was the one who moved, but it was he who showed the teenager where the nearby St. Barnabus was heading Hospital leads.
Cruz said, "On the night of the attack, when he learned that Guzman-Feliz had been killed, it was so difficult."
"D After that, I spent all my night in the shop, "he said. "I did not go to sleep because I can not."
Additional coverage by Stephanie Pagones