Slaying of Bronx teen highlights NYPD efforts to curb gang violence

NYPD using social media to curb gang violence

The New York teenager stabbed to death by alleged gang members has been laid to rest. Hundreds of people gathered outside a Bronx church Wednesday, where the funeral for 15-year-old Lesandro Guzman-Feliz took place. His death highlights the issue of gang violence in the community. 

The funeral was held at a church the family attended regularly, just a few blocks from the deli where Guzman-Feliz was attacked.  A number of police officers and NYPD officials attended the service for the young man who once dreamed of becoming a cop, reports CBS News' DeMarco Morgan. 

The family of Guzman-Feliz sat just feet away from his coffin draped in white. His father and others wore Yankees jerseys in honor of the teen's favorite team. During the service, clergy had a message of compassion to the young people in attendance: "Protect your life, help others to live."

Outside, hundreds of supporters called for justice as the teen's casket was loaded into the hearse. Hours later, six of the eight suspects arrested in connection with the attack appeared in a New York courtroom facing murder, manslaughter and gang assault charges. The suspects are alleged members of the Trinitarios gang.

The NYPD also announced Wednesday a crackdown on a different Bronx gang, known as the MacBallas. Twenty people face charges ranging from racketeering to murder.

Suspects in custody in apparent mistaken-identity murder of Bronx teen

In both cases, the police used social media to help track down the suspects. Much of that work is done at the NYPD's Real Time Crime Center. Teams of investigators dig through social media platforms after a crime is committed looking for clues, tips and evidence. 

"We see in the case of violent street gangs, frequently, they're bragging about what they're doing. So social media is -- has proven to be an invaluable tool," said Dermot Shea, the NYPD's chief of detectives.

And for people worried about being seen talking to authorities, Shea said social media lets them safely share information with police.

"We have trust with the community," Shea said. "The power of unity here. So, the community and the police together, common cause. We will not be defeated by that small number of people."

Aside from tracking criminals, social media has been crucial with getting tips. Shea said when the video of the attack on Guzman-Feliz was posted on social media, tips came pouring in helping them make so many arrests so quickly.