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Bodega owner shelters teen from attackers

Posted: Updated:
HIGHBRIDGE -

The owner of an Ogden Avenue bodega is being called a hero after helping save a teenage boy who was trying to take shelter from attackers in the store.

Surveillance video from Monday night shows the teen scurrying into the bodega as others pursue him. The boy wanders down an aisle of the store, trying to hide from the attackers. Soon after, droves of men can be seen entering the store. It appears that the teen starts scuffling with one of them, and then the rest swarm in.

The owner, Edward Lara, intervened, pulling away some of the assailants. His employees also assisted. Afterward, the teen struggled to get up, and then collapsed to the floor.

Another piece of video shows the owner standing guard at his door with an iron stick, denying the attackers access to his store in an effort to protect the teen inside. They try to get back in a couple of times to no avail.

Police say the victim was transported to Lincoln Hospital in stable condition. Police arrested one teen and charged him with gang assault and other offenses.

Lara says the boy entered the shop saying "please help me, they're going to kill me." Lara says he wanted to help and not see more violence occur to a teen from the Bronx.

Lara says he gladly took action, rather than standing by.

"Today when there is a fight, everyone gets a cellphone. They want to be on YouTube, they want likes, that's not the right way," says Lara.

The incident was reminiscent of what happened in Belmont in June, when a group of men chased 15-year-old Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz inside a bodega. The teen was brutally attacked with machetes and died. The owner of the bodega at that time fell under great scrutiny, accused of not doing enough to protect the boy.

Police confirmed late Wednesday that a shooting that happened down the street from the bodega Monday night is connected to this assault. Police say the suspects got into a dispute with the teen down the street when a firearm discharged, striking a 56-year-old bystander in the leg. They say the suspects then ran after the teen and tried to attack him in the bodega.

Lawmakers proposed in July the Junior Law, which would require small businesses to be safe havens for minors in danger.

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