MS-13 Victim's Mom Killed on Her Way to Her Daughter's Memorial
LONG ISLAND — September 16, 2018
The mother of a teen girl allegedly killed by MS-13 gang members was fatally struck Friday after arguing with a driver on her way to a memorial for her murdered child, authorities said.
According to the police report, Evelyn Rodriguez, mother of Kayla Cuevas, became an anti-gang activist after her daughter’s 2016 death. She attended President Trump’s State of the Union address earlier this year as a White House guest.
The incident happened Friday evening when the woman was on the way to her daughter's memorial. She started to argue with a driver near the scene of a candlelight vigil for her daughter Friday afternoon in Brentwood. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a car came that hit a woman. She was pronounced dead at a hospital. The female driver stayed at the scene and the incident is under investigation. There have been no arrests, law enforcement sources said.
"The U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners are saddened to learn of the death of Evelyn Rodriguez, a tireless advocate for victims of MS-13 violence," said a spokesman for Richard P. Donoghue, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
It was also reported that so far, there is no evidence of ties to MS-13 or any indication that the crash was retribution by the gang, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Kayla Cuevas, 16, and her 15-year-old friend Nisa Mickens, both students at Long Island’s Brentwood High School, were bludgeoned to death with bats and machetes by MS-13 gang members two years ago to the day, authorities said. Their bodies were discovered less than a day apart.
U.S. Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., who had worked with Rodriguez on a campaign ad, was on his way to the memorial when he learned that she had been hit. He said it happened about an hour before a service was scheduled to begin.
"It's a tragedy beyond belief," King said. "Everyone is in shock. What more could happen to one woman?"
Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini, who was police commissioner when Cuevas and Mickens were killed, said Rodriguez was "one of the strongest people" he's ever met and that he's heartbroken over her death.
"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," Sini said.
Rodriguez spoke out against the gang at the local school district after Cuevas and Mickens were killed. Mickens' body was found near an elementary school on Sept. 13, 2016. Cuevas' body was found the next day, a few hundred feet away.
The girls' alleged killers, who were arrested along with about a dozen other suspected MS-13 members, are facing murder charges that could result in the death penalty.
One victim's mother filed a $110 million lawsuit last December against the Brentwood School District, claiming it ignored warnings that MS-13 members were threatening Kayla.
Rodriguez said that employees failed to act when told that the girl was being threatened. The lawsuit says the bullying went on for two years before the teenager was killed.
Rodriguez told a House subcommittee last year that residents were living in fear and were afraid to let their kids play outside.
"The MS-13 gang is so unpredictable you just don't know who is who with them," Rodriguez said during one of her meeting with House subcommittee. "MS-13 is a new breed of murderers, they are children, kids killing kids, and as they continue to grow, so does their techniques of recruiting helpless kids into their wicked actions."
MS-13 is believed by federal prosecutors to have thousands of members across the U.S., primarily immigrants from Central America.
Last month, an MS-13 member pleaded guilty to participating in the brutal massacre of four young men in nearby Central Islip.