Advocates push for increased safety measures in Bronx bodegas

Standing behind the counter at FeloMars Grocery store, a bodega in the Bronx isn’t easy after Sunday’s deadly attack that was caught on camera.

"I tried to reserve myself by ducking behind the counter. The two guys came in after him. I heard the commotion then 2 shots," the bodega worker told FOX 5 in Spanish, recalling the shooting. 

The bodega worker was at work Sunday evening when 35-year-old Cleavland Smith came inside running for his life with two men chasing after him. 

Within seconds, surveillance video shows the shooter hit him twice in the chest before he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

One shopper could barely believe her eyes as we showed her the shooting at the store she shops at weekly.

"To see that that’s definitely scary. It’s alarming. It feels dangerous you know," said the shopper. 


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Nothing could stop the shooters from entering his store on Sunday and nothing could in case they return.

"For years we’ve been asking the city and the state for funding to create Safe haven bodegas in hotspots throughout the city," said Fernando Mateo, the spokesperson for United Bodegas of America.

Mateo believes if Felomar, a bodega riddled with crime, was a ‘safe haven bodega’, the worker could’ve denied access to the shooters, potentially saving Smith’s life. 

For between $2,000 and. $2,500, a store could install an automatic buzz-in system for customers, along with more lights, cameras and a panic button. 


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But Mateo is calling on the city and state to invest since bodega owners can seldomly afford it, he says. 

"It’s unfair for them. It’s a safety issue. I think the city could do better for them, find better resources and help them as a community," added the shopper. 

FOX 5 reached out to the city for response to United Bodegas of America's for request for more resources; however we didn't get a response. 

Police are still searching for the men behind the deadly shooting.