Evelyn Rodriguez, Mother of Girl Killed by MS-13 Gang, is Fatally Struck by SUV Before Memorial Honoring her Daughter

Freddy Cuevas and Evelyn Rodriguez posed before a memorial table for their daughter, Kayla Cuevas, in 2016. (Credit: Heather Walsh for The New York Times)
Freddy Cuevas and Evelyn Rodriguez posed before a memorial table for their daughter, Kayla Cuevas, in 2016. (Credit: Heather Walsh for The New York Times)

Evelyn Rodriguez, who became a vocal advocate for victims of gang violence after members of the transnational gang MS-13 were charged with killing her 16-year-old daughter, died after being struck by an S.U.V. on Friday — just before a memorial service marking the second anniversary of her daughter’s death.

The Suffolk County Police Department said that she had been involved in a dispute with a driver around 4 p.m. near where the ceremony was to take place, and that the vehicle struck her as the driver tried to leave.

The memorial was set to be held in Brentwood, on Long Island, in a suburban cul-de-sac not far from where the bodies of Ms. Rodriguez’s daughter Kayla Cuevas and her friend Nisa Mickens, 15, were found.

Ms. Rodriguez, 50, a vocal advocate for crime prevention who was invited to President Trump’s State of the Union address in January, had been preparing for the memorial on Friday evening to mark the anniversary of the day her daughter’s body was found.

On Friday night, Mr. Trump tweeted about her death. “My thoughts and prayers are with Evelyn Rodriguez this evening, along with her family and friends,” he wrote.

On the day before the memorial, Ms. Rodriguez told Newsday that people attending were going to bring candles and balloons to remember Kayla and Nisa. “It’s a fight that I have to continue to make sure all communities are safe,” she said.

In a statement on Friday night, the Suffolk police said that Ms. Rodriguez got into an argument with the driver of a sport utility vehicle regarding the placement of the memorial.

The police did not name the driver but said she was a relative of someone who lives nearby. After she tried to leave and the S.U.V. struck Ms. Rodriguez, the statement said, the driver remained on the scene and called 911.

Ms. Rodriguez was transported to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y., where she was pronounced dead. Homicide detectives were investigating the episode.

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SOURCE: Jacey Fortin and Liz Robbins
The New York Times