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Teen Taken Off Life Support After School Safety Officer Shot Her, Police Open Homicide Investigation
School safety officer, Eddie F. Gonzalez, is accused of shooting the teen in the head while responding to an altercation in the street.
A homicide investigation is now underway after a teen mother died nine days after being shot by a school safety officer, police say.
Manuela ‘Mona’ Rodriguez, 18, died on Wednesday after being removed from life support, according to the Long Beach Police Department. Authorities say the young mother succumbed to her injuries after a Long Beach Unified School District safety officer discharged his firearm while trying to break up a fight, striking the teen in the upper body.
The Sept. 27 shooting left Rodriguez brain dead, according to KTLA.
As previously reported, family members objected to Rodriguez being removed from life support by doctors.
“Honestly, I don’t feel that that’s right because if a government official is the one the shot my sister, then the government should not be the one that’s deciding whether they should pull the plug or not,” said Rodriguez’s brother, Oscar, according to the Long Beach Post News. “It doesn’t make sense to me.”
The shooter was identified as Eddie F. Gonzalez, who allegedly shot the teen in the back of the head while she was the passenger of a moving vehicle, according to KTLA. The father of Rodriguez’s 5-month-old child, Rafeul Chowdhury, as well as his brother, were also in the car.
“The preliminary investigation revealed the school safety officer was driving when he observed a physical altercation between an adult female (Rodriguez) and a 15-year-old female juvenile victim occurring in the street,” stated the Long Beach Police Department. “Investigators have determined a 20-year-old male adult and a 16-year-old male juvenile were also involved; however, their participation level remains under investigation.”
Police say the three passengers attempted to flee in the 4-door gray sedan when Gonzalez approached them and discharged his weapon twice into the vehicle. One of the bullets struck Rodriguez.
Bystanders captured the incident on video from two vantage points.
“There’s no excuse, no justification for this officer shooting in the rear passenger-side window of a car with a woman who’s unarmed. Everyone in the car was unarmed,” said Chowdhury, according to KTLA. “And the fact is, he shot at someone in the passenger seat with no regard for anyone’s life in the car.”
Long Beach Police clarified that while the Long Beach Unified School District employed Gonzalez, he had no affiliation with local law enforcement.
Luis Carrillo, an attorney representing the Rodriguez family, called for the arrest of Gonzalez.
“The first priority is to get this guy arrested and off the street,” Carrillo told The Daily Beast. “He doesn’t have any business carrying a badge or wearing a gun.”
As reported by Oxygen.com, the officer was placed on administrative leave following the shooting.
“This incident has greatly impacted our school district community, and we are collectively holding the shooting victim in our thoughts,” the Long Beach Unified School District said in a statement. “…Like many of you, my heart is heavy today. And, with my heavy heart, I will continue to stand strong with our Long Beach family to work day-in and day-out to help all of our students feel safe, seen, heard, and supported in their schools and in our community.”
No arrests have been made, but the Long Beach Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation and sharing their findings with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for independent review.
A GoFundMe page was created to aid in medical costs.