Bodega where Junior Guzman-Feliz was attacked turns into ‘safe haven’

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BELMONT -

What is being called the first "safe haven bodega" in the Bronx was unveiled Wednesday, seven months after the death of Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz.

Guzman-Feliz was killed outside the same bodega on East 183rd Street last June after being stabbed and slashed multiple times.

Since then, initiatives have been put forward to keep both employees and customers safe. There is tangible evidence that progress is being made at the bodega today.

Panic buttons for employees in danger, magnetic-lock doors, cameras monitored 24/7 by law enforcement, flood and strobe lights to alert patrol cars of danger and shatter-proof windows are all part of the safety measures being introduced at this bodega today.

But with the positive changes comes criticism, as the owner of the bodega during Junior's death has once again assumed ownership. Modesto Cruz came under heavy fire for not helping Guzman-Feliz on the night of his death.

A new owner took over the bodega in August, but United Bodegas of America officials say Cruz is once again the owner.

The United Bodegas of America met with the NYPD in December during its first-ever safety summit in which it collaborated on a six-step plan to make bodegas safer.

The owner of the bodega received backlash at the time of the attack, being accused of not doing enough to protect the teen as he was captured on camera being dragged out of the store while trying to take refuge.

Elected officials have also proposed the NYPD train bodega owners on how to respond to violence.

News 12 is told the United Bodegas of America partnered with Virtuous Systems, a tech firm, to supply the bodega with more than $3,000 worth of safety measures for free.

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