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Cuomo Announces $18 Million for Gang Prevention in the Bronx

Kacie Candela / WFUV News


The Belmont community in the Bronx was shaken by the machete killing of 15-year-old Lesandro "Junior" Guzman-Feliz who was mistakenly targeted by suspected gang members. Now, the neighborhood is receiving a major investment from the state to keep kids out of gangs.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo visited Madison Square Boys and Girls club just six blocks away from where Guzman-Feliz was stabbed. He was a member of the NYPD’s explorer’s program, which is one of many youth groups that serves children in the area. Cuomo said gangs win when young people don’t feel supported.

"We have to fill the void before the gang gets there. You want to join something? Join the baseball team, join the basketball team," he said.

The governor announced $18 million dollars for Bronx youth programs, including a million for the Boys and Girls Club.

Heidi Hines is the director of the Mary Mitchell Family and Youth Center and brought some of the students in her program to the event. She said it’s a step in the right direction for a neighborhood that has seen a lot of disinvestment.

"What we really need is a deeper investment, and we'll get that when we find solidarity from the people in this state whose kids aren't afraid to go to the corner store," Hines said.