9-year-old tourist from the Bronx killed on spring break trip in Dominican Republic

Uncle says long-time family friend orchestrated the robbery gone bad

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Saturday, April 22, 2023
9-year-old tourist from the Bronx killed on spring break trip in Dominican Republic
Gioser Luis Féliz, 9, was shot in the head on Wednesday in Santiago after arriving from New York with his father. Darla Miles has more.

SANTIAGO, Dominican Republic (WABC) -- Six men are under arrest in the Dominican Republic and charged in the deadly shooting and attempted robbery of a 9-year-old boy from the Bronx, and according to a family member of the victims, two of the suspects are family friends.

Gioser Luis Féliz, 9, was shot in the head on Wednesday in Santiago after arriving from New York with his father.

Reports say Gioser and his dad, Sergio Luis Feliz Mancebo, took off from JFK Airport on Wednesday for a spring break trip to see family.

They met up with a driver at Cibao International Airport to set off on what was supposed to be a six-day trip of making memories.

Police say just moments after getting in the car, that vehicle was swarmed by a group of robbers.

The driver refused to stop and that's when the suspects pulled out their weapons and unleashed a hail of bullets on the vehicle.

A bullet hole pierced the left rear passenger side window of the rented Honda CRV. The 4th-grader was riding in the back seat when he was struck in the head.

"I just looked back and saw my son bleeding out," the victim's father said.

He was rushed to the hospital but did not survive.

Five men were arrested Thursday, less than 24 hours after the crime. Police say they confessed to the shooting and were due in court.

They were identified as Luis Ángel Vargas Brito, 18 years old; Derlin Javier Mercado Martinez, Cesar Junior Ulloa Cuevas; José Manuel Almonte Santana (Buki), 20 years old, and Elian Martínez Sánchez (Odalis), 22 -- all residents of the Cienfuegos section of Santiago.

On Friday, officials announced a sixth man, Tomás Peña Morel Tomacito, 32, was also arrested in connection to the deadly shooting.

Police also said five women were detained for investigative purposes.

Eyewitness News reporter Darla Miles spoke with Julian Feliz, the uncle of Gioser and the brother of his father, Sergio. He said that two of the men charged, Morel Tomacito and Mercado Martinez, are family friends. Feliz said Morel Tomacito has known Mancebo his whole life and is like a brother to him. He says the women being detained are the girlfriends of the other suspects and that investigators are trying to find out what they know.

According to Feliz, Morel Tomacito was there two weeks ago and knew of the upcoming trip, set Mancebo up and was the ringleader who orchestrated the robbery gone bad. He says Martinez helped to monitor Mancebo's movement. Both are in the Dominican Republic. The driver of the family's SUV is not involved, Feliz says.

Initially, the family just thought it was a random, violent crime.

Feliz says Mancebo's was excited to see his mother and for Gioser to see his grandmother for just the second time in his life. Feliz says that it was perceived that because Mancebo was on vacation that he brought a large amount of cash.

"When you go on a vacation you're going to spend money, so over there, they don't know if you're carrying $100 or you're carrying $1,000, so they try to rob you to find out what you have on," Feliz said.

Authorities are still working to find the murder weapon and are continuing their investigation.

A wake was held on Friday. Preparations are now underway to transport the child's body back to the United States. A funeral is expected to be held next week in the Bronx.

His heartbroken father is still in the Dominican Republic trying to get answers.

The president of the Dominican Republic tweeted and said he has been following the case and justice must be ensured in the courts.

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