The gang members roamed the Belmont section of the Bronx with machetes and knives, “hunting,” looking to exact revenge against their rivals, investigators said. They wanted blood.
Instead of targeting a gang member, however, the Trinitarios dragged 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz from a bodega and stabbed him repeatedly in what the police said was a chilling case of mistaken identity.
But even as police officials announced an eighth arrest in last week’s gruesome killing that was captured on video, investigators were still working on Tuesday to piece together what prompted the attack on Lesandro. The Trinitarios, a vicious Dominican gang based in New York, are believed to be responsible for a wave of violence in that section of the Bronx, including a stabbing on Monday in Bronx River Park that left a 14-year-old boy in critical condition, the police said. Investigators said they believe the two incidents are linked.
The men who attacked Lesandro believed he was a gang member, law enforcement officials said, but he wasn’t.
“They were out there hunting for rival Trinitarios and they found this poor kid,” the official said. “It’s a puzzle and we’re putting it together little by little. We want to know, obviously, why him? Why there? And, why so violent?”
The slaying was captured on video that quickly went viral online, sparking an outcry over social media that included calls for justice from rapper Cardi B, the basketball star Carmelo Anthony and the Yankees pitcher C.C. Sabathia. As outrage grew, James P. O’Neill, the police commissioner, and Mayor Bill de Blasio both made appearances at the boy’s wake in the last two days.
Six of the men charged in Lesandro’s death declined to challenge their extraditions at a Tuesday hearing in Paterson, N.J. Hours later, the police announced the arrest of a new suspect, Elvin Garcia, in the Bronx. All were expected to be arraigned on Wednesday afternoon, joining a 19-year-old who was taken into custody on Sunday and charged with second-degree murder on Monday.
“We will leave no stone unturned,” Dermot F. Shea, the chief of detectives, said at a news conference in the Bronx. “We have ample resources to deal with anyone who wishes to engage in this activity. You are going to swiftly learn this is a no-win situation. If you flee to Paterson, if you flee to Wyoming, we will get you.”
The men arrested in New Jersey — Jose Taverez, 21, Manuel Rivera, 18, Danel Fernandez, 21, Santiago Rodriguez, 24, all of the Bronx; Jose Muniz, 21, of Paterson, N.J.; and Joniki Martinez, 24, of Freeport, N.Y. — were awaiting transfer on Wednesday to New York City, where they face charges including assault, manslaughter and murder.
They were each called one-by-one before Judge Ernest M. Caposela of the Passaic County criminal division of New Jersey Superior Court, where they each stood with their heads bowed.
A trio of Passaic County public defenders represented the group. Five of the six had interpreters at their sides and wore headphones to hear courtroom exchanges translated from English to Spanish.
Judy Fallon, a public defender who represented Mr. Rodriguez and Mr. Taverez, said the defendants were worried about the safety of their families.
“You only need to go on social media to see that tempers are very, very high — understandably high,” she said. “This is a terrible, terrible case. I just ask people to let the system run its course.”
Kevin J. Alvarez, 19, turned himself in on Sunday. He was arraigned on Monday and charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter, assault and gang assault. Investigators said they believe it was Mr. Alvarez who went into the bodega and dragged Lesandro onto the street, where he was stabbed repeatedly.
At least two of the men detained do not have arrest records, a police official said, but five other have been arrested before.
Lesandro, who was known as Junior, wanted to be a police detective and had participated in the Explorers program, a New York Police Department program for high school students. He was a sophomore at the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health & Science Charter School, where classmate Michael Saster, 18, described him as “a good kid” who never did anything wrong.
News of the latest arrest came as Lesandro’s family sat in mourning at his wake at the Ralph G. Ortiz Funeral Home on Southern Boulevard. Lesandro lay in an open coffin, dressed in his Police Explorer’s jacket with a New York Yankees jersey draped over him, surrounded by dozens of flower bouquets. His mother, Leandra Feliz, sat alone on a nearby couch as people filed by, paying their respects.
The mayor, in remarks made during “Inside City Hall,” a live broadcast on NY1, said Lesandro had been a teenager on the right path and that the “city’s violence problem is largely a gang problem.”
“The folks who did this horrible crime, I am very certain they will all be rolled up and they will all spend a lot of time in prison,” Mr. de Blasio said.
A funeral for Lesandro is scheduled to be held at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the Bronx on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.
Tyler Blint-Welsh and Sean Piccoli contributed reporting.
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