A group of Good Samaritans is being applauded for reportedly stepping in to protect a teen against a weapon-wielding mob who had stolen his moped and attacked him in broad daylight.
New York Daily News reported that customer Vincent Millan, 43, and a group of Brooklyn bodega workers intervened Thursday evening after the unnamed 17-year-old was struck in the face by one of the five men and chased into the store amid an apparent robbery.
Surveillance footage shows the teen riding his red gas-powered moped on the sidewalk before the suspects surround him. One of the suspects is spotted taking off with the scooter after the boy flees into the store.
Armed with a bicycle seat, Millan exited the business to confront the men, who in turn enclosed on him. WABC reported that Millan was struck in the back of his head during the assault. He reportedly managed to defend himself and break one of the assailants’ car windows before they fled.
Millan told both outlets that he thought of Lesandro “Junior” Guzman-Feliz, 15, as he saw the situation unfold.
“That flashed in my head when it happened,” Millan told the Daily News. “I said, ‘Nah, you’re not coming in here to do what you did up in the Bronx.’”
“I had to stop these guys from dragging this kid out…How could I live with myself if I just let them?”
The news outlet reported that store employees and customers barricaded the door—preventing the suspects from getting to the teen—before Millan emerged from the store to face them.
“When I saw the knife and stuff and the way they were trying to get in the store, I thought, ‘This is something,’” shop owner Denisse Castillo, 32, recalled. “It’s not just the stealing the bike. It was the same thing that happened to Junior.”
Last summer, surveillance cameras filmed a group of alleged gang members dragging the 15-year-old outside a Bronx bodega before fatally stabbing and attacking him. Since then, authorities said the teen’s murder was the result of mistaken identity.
Cruz and Chiky Grocery, the bodega where Guzman-Feliz was filmed being dragged out of, came under fire as footage apparently showed the former owner pointing the critically-injured teen out the door moments before his murder.
The ex-owner later claimed that he had defended the teen, allowing him to hide under the counter before the gang spotted him, and was actually pointing him in the direction of a hospital.
The Bronx bodega re-opened in August under new ownership. In late January, the location was unveiled as a “safe haven bodega,” according to News12.
WPIX reported that the 17-year-old victim was hospitalized for a laceration to his head. Meanwhile, two of the five suspects—a 16- and 26-year-old—were arrested and charged in connection with Thursday night’s assault.
[Featured Image: WABC video screengrab]