A mother from Long Island whose teenage daughter was allegedly killed by MS-13 gang members died after being struck by a vehicle just before a memorial service for her daughter.
Suffolk County Police Department reported Evelyn Rodriguez, 50, was struck by an SUV around 4:10 p.m. on Friday on Ray Court Street near Stahley Street in Brentwood, New York, where her daughter Kayla Ceuvas, 16, and her friend Nisa Mickens, 15, were found dead, according to ABC 7.
Cuevas’ body was found beaten and stabbed the same day two years ago and the memorial service was being held to mark that occasion.
Four members of the MS-13 gang were charged with the pair’s deaths in 2017. The gang members were identified as A. Saenz, J. Saenz, Enrique Portillo and Selvin Chavez.
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Authorities say Rodriguez was struck with the SUV before the memorial service started and directly after having gotten into a dispute with a female driver of a 2016 Nissan Rouge over the placement of the memorial.
Local news station News 12 was on the scene before the argument occured to cover the candlelight vigil and had been told the memorial to the two girls was set up in front of a home, when that home owner came out and began to dismantle it.
During the argument, the driver, who has a relative who resides on Ray Court, attempted to leave the scene and her vehicle struck Rodriguez, according to police.
Rodriguez, of Brentwood, was transported to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore where she was pronounced dead.
The Nissan driven by the female was impounded for a safety check, and police are yet to reveal the identity of the driver.
The incident was still under investigation on Saturday, but say the driver’s motive was not immediately clear.
Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini was a police commissioner when Cuevas and her friend Mickens were killed and said that Rodriguez was “one of the strongest people” he had ever met and how completely heartbroken he was to hear of her death.
Sini said in a statement:
“Evelyn Rodriguez endured unspeakable tragedy when her daughter was murdered two years ago. As a parent, I cannot imagine functioning after the loss of a child, but Evelyn was able to turn that tragedy into a mission for good. She harvested her grief and used it as a catalyst for positive change on behalf of her community and on behalf of this country. She was a fierce advocate for her hometown of Brentwood and was fearless in her fight to put an end to the violence caused by MS-13 to ensure that other parents never have to endure the pain she suffered. Evelyn is one of the strongest people I have ever met in my life. I am proud to have worked with her and even more proud to have called her a friend. I know I speak for everyone who knew Evelyn in saying that we are truly heartbroken over her loss.”
Rodriguez filed a $110 million lawsuit in December of 2017 against the Brentwood School District, claiming it ignored warnings of MS-13 gang members who had been threatening her daughter Kayla. Rodriguez said employees failed to act when they were told her daughter was being threatened. The lawsuit says that the bullying went on for two years before her daughter was murdered.
After Cuevas and Mickens were attacked and brutally killed with machetes and baseball bats in 2016, Rodriguez made it her main focus to shed light on the rising problem MS-13 and other gangs are becoming in America.
In June of 2017, Rodriguez spoke at a hearing of the House Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, where she plead with members of Congress to take action combating gang violence on Long Island and explained her community was living in fear.
You may remember Rodriguez from President Trump’s State of the Union address in January when along with Cuevas’ father Freddy Cuevas, and Mickens’ parents were highlighted in the audience.
Rodriguez also sat alongside Trump during a gang violence forum in May in Bethpage, Long Island.
Long Island has been increasingly plagued by gang violence and both President Trump and Attorney Jeff Sessions have on separate occasions visited Long Island to discuss combating gangs.
After learning of Rodriguez’s death on Friday, President Trump sent his condolences via Twitter to her loved ones: “My thoughts and prayers are with Evelyn Rodriguez this evening, along with her family and friends.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 15, 2018
Suffolk County police ask anyone with information on the incident to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392.
Funeral arrangements for Evelyn Rodriguez:
Wake: Thursday 2-9 p.m. at Grant Michael Funeral Home in Brentwood
Funeral: Friday, 9:45 a.m. at St. Anne’s R.C. Church on 2nd Avenue in Brentwood
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