Following the death of anti-gang activist Evelyn Rodriguez on Friday, her family and supporters are calling for the person who ran over her to be held responsible for her death.
On Friday, Rodriguez and her longtime boyfriend, Freddy Cuevas, were tipped off that someone was dismantling a memorial dedicated to the couple's daughter, Kayla, who was murdered at the site two years prior (to the day) by MS-13 gang members.
A candlelight vigil in remembrance of Kayla, 16, and her best friend Nisa Mickens, 15 — who was killed along with Kayla in 2016 — was slated for Friday evening. One witness reportedly told WLNY-TV they saw a woman popping balloons that had been placed at the display.
Shortly after 4 p.m., Rodriguez and Cuevas got into a heated argument with a woman described by police as "a relative of a resident of Ray Court" after feeling disrespected over items from the memorial being removed. As she sought to escape the exchange, the woman struck Rodriguez with her vehicle. Rodriguez was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital.
Footage from two news crews recorded the incident, which police are reviewing as the investigation continues. In the meantime, supporters of Rodriguez, 50, say her death was senseless and are calling for justice.
"We approached them and asked them why the situation occurred, what brought the situation to the point that it did, and they didn't want to say nothing," Cuevas recalled the incident to WLNY.
"It took a turning point that it shouldn't have taken because there's no reason for them to spin out and drive off," he added.
Suffolk Police refused Newsday's request for an update on Sunday. But Rodriguez's friend and fellow crime victim advocate Barbara Medina told the outlet that the woman who ran over Rodriguez "should be held responsible. ... To be mowed down like an animal. I'm sorry. No. We need justice at the end of the day."
Cuevas echoed to Newsday, "There was no reason for any of this to go on," adding that the driver of the SUV "has to live with it; it's on her forever."
Rodriguez and Cuevas were recognized by President Donald Trump during his 2018 State of the Union address. After Kayla's death, Rodriguez fought against the gang violence ravaging Long Island.
Medina told the New York Times of Rodriguez, "She was relentless. She was a ball of fury and with positive energy. She was a warrior. She was determined for justice for her daughter."