September 15, 2018 01:28 PM

Evelyn Rodriguez, whose 16-year-old daughter was murdered in September 2016, was hit by a car and killed on Friday ahead of a memorial service to mark the second anniversary of her daughter’s death.

The Suffolk County Police Department said that Rodriguez, 50, was struck by a car around 4 p.m. in Brentwood, New York, after getting into a dispute with a driver of an SUV about the location of the memorial, according to the New York Times.

The vigil was set to be held near the exact spot where the bodies of her daughter, Kayla Cuevas, and her daughter’s 15-year-old friend Nisa Mickens were found. Four members of the MS-13 gang were charged with the pair’s deaths.

According to the police, Rodriguez was struck by the vehicle when she tried to leave, and the driver, whom the authorities did not name, stayed on the scene and called 911, the Times reported. (The Suffolk County Police Department did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.)

Local station News 12, which was present at the time in order to attend the vigil, went on to share video footage that appeared to show Rodriguez confronting the driver. The outlet went on to report that following the confrontation, the SUV accelerated towards Rodriguez and ran her over.

Evelyn Rodriguez
Michael Noble Jr. for The Washington Post via Getty

Rodriguez was pronounced dead after being taken to Southside Hospital in Bay Shore, New York, according to the Times.

While the driver of the vehicle has not been arrested, the investigation is still ongoing, reported Fox News.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Following news of Rodriguez’s death, President Donald Trump expressed his condolences on social media.

“My thoughts and prayers are with Evelyn Rodriguez this evening, along with her family and friends. #RIPEvelyn,” he wrote.

In addition to appearing on a gang violence forum alongside the president in May, Rodriguez also attended Trump’s first-ever State of the Union address in January, where Trump mentioned her daughter in his speech.

Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini — who served as police commissioner at the time of Rodriguez’s daughter’s murder — also mourned the loss of Rodriguez.

“Evelyn Rodriguez endured unspeakable tragedy when her daughter was murdered two years ago. As a parent, I cannot imagine functioning after the loss of a child, but Evelyn was able to turn that tragedy into a mission for good. She harvested her grief and used it as a catalyst for positive change on behalf of her community and on behalf of this country,” he wrote.

“Evelyn is one of the strongest people I have ever met in my life. I am proud to have worked with her and even more proud to have called her a friend. I know I speak for everyone who knew Evelyn in saying that we are truly heartbroken over her loss,” he added.

Kayla Cuevas

In a statement to theTimes, Sini said that while he couldn’t comment about the investigation, Rodriguez’s death “had nothing to do with MS-13.”

“This was not an act by MS-13, or done in coordination with the gang in any way,” he continued.

RELATED VIDEO: Woman Who Helped Kidnap Elizabeth Smart Will Be Freed Next Week: ‘Incomprehensible,’ Smart Says

Additionally, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also released a statement mourning “the tragic loss” of Rodriguez, who remained a fierce advocate against gang violence “in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy of her daughter’s death.”

“I have directed the State Police to provide any assistance and resources to the Suffolk County Police Department as they investigate the circumstances surrounding Evelyn’s death at today’s memorial vigil,” he added.

New York State Representative Peter King, who was on his way to the vigil on Friday, said the incident occurred close to an hour before the memorial was scheduled to start, according to CBS New York.

“We’ve been talking to everyone all week about it,” he told the outlet. “I get a call from her friend who was with her and said there has been a horrible accident and that Evelyn has been run over by a car and was in very bad shape.”    

In a separate remark shared with the Associated Press, King called Rodriguez’s death “a tragedy beyond belief.”

“Everyone is in shock,” he added. “What more could happen to one woman?”

You May Like