What to Know
- Evelyn Rodriguez, mother of alleged MS-13 victim Kayla Cuevas, was struck and killed in Brentwood Friday, police say
- Rodriguez had been setting up for a vigil to mark the anniversary of her daughter's death, according to a family friend
- Cuevas and her 15-year-old friend Nisa Mickens were killed on Sept. 13, 2016
The grieving partner of the Long Island mother and anti-gang activist mowed down by a driver while setting up for a memorial for her daughter, who allegedly killed by MS-13 members two years ago, says he doesn't believe it was an accident.
Evelyn Rodriguez, 50, and her daughter Kayla Cuevas, 16, were killed in nearly the same spot in Brentwood two years apart. On the evening of Sept. 13, 2016, Kayla Cuevas and her 15-year-old best friend Nisa Mickens were out for a walk when four alleged MS-13 members jumped out of a car and killed them with baseball bats and a machete, authorities said. Prosecutors said Kayla was targeted because of ongoing disputes with gang members at her school. They said Nisa was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Rodriguez, who became an advocate after her daughter was killed, was setting up for a vigil on Ray Court, near Stahley Street, last Friday to mark the two-yearanniversary of Kayla's death when she got into an argument with someone about where the memorial was being placed, police said.
Freddy Cuevas, Kayla's father and Rodriguez's partner of 35 years, told News 4 New York Monday that someone had taken down the memorial in the cul-de-sac, and he and Rodriguez confronted the person they believe did it. That person got into a 2016 Nissan Rouge and tried to leave the scene, but hit Rodriguez, Suffolk police said. She was dead at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.
"Not an accident. I don't think so on my end," Cuevas said. He cried as the irony, and the tragedy, of the deaths of mother and daughter overwhelmed him.
"It was something that shouldn't have occurred," said Cuevas.
Suffolk's police commissioner Geraldine Hart declined to say if anyone would be charged. But law enforcement officials did remember Evelyn Rodriguez at a round table talk on gangs Monday. She had taken her anti-gang message to the president and attorney general, and her fight was even mentioned at the state of the union.
President Trump tweeted his thoughts and prayers to Rodriguez and her family Friday night. Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini called her a friend and "one of the strongest people I have ever met," adding that 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."
"I don't know how much horror could come to one woman in the course of her life," said Rep. Peter King (R-Long Island). "She was one of the most courageous people I've ever met."
Now Cuevas hopes police will hold someone accountable for Rodriguez's death.
"She's a shining star -- she was everything," he said.
Cuevas said he will continue Rodriguez's fight, but not before saying a final goodbye at memorial services Thursday and Friday.