Police in Long Beach, California, have opened a homicide investigation into a school safety officer’s shooting of a teenager who died after her family took her off life support.
Mona Rodriguez, 18, died eight days after being shot in the head on Sept. 27 by Eddie F. Gonzalez, who at the time was a school safety officer with the Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD).
Shortly before 3:15 p.m., Rodriguez had been involved in a fight with a 15-year-old girl in a parking lot near Millikan High School, the Long Beach Post reported. Gonzalez intervened. Rodriguez entered the front passenger seat of a nearby gray sedan driven by her boyfriend, according to a Washington Post report.
Bystander video shows Gonzalez approaching the car. Shortly after, the car pulls away, and that’s when Gonzalez is seen firing his gun at the car.
In a press release, Long Beach police said Thursday that they are investigating the shooting as a homicide “in light of” Rodriguez’s passing.
Yessica Loza, who says she is Rodriguez’s cousin, created a GoFundMe the day after the shooting to support Rodriguez’s family, including her infant son.
“Mona is leaving behind her mom, 4 brothers, and her sister but most importantly she’s leaving behind her 5 month old baby boy Isael,” Loza wrote. “She was smart, beautiful, loving and anyone who knew her knew how big her heart was, how full of life she was and how much she loved her family but most especially her son who was her entire life, pride and joy … [S]he had her entire life ahead of her and because of a careless act done by a school safety guard a 5 month old baby boy was left without a mother and we all lost someone we loved so much.”
In a subsequent post, Loza wrote that Rodriguez was removed from life support “after donating her organs to save the life of 5 people.”
“She donated her heart, liver, both kidneys and her lungs,” the statement said.
“We also wanted to let you know how the doctors and nurses gave Mona a hero’s celebration in the hallway as she was taken down to the operating room and they even played her favorite song for her,” Loza added.
The LBUSD fired Gonzalez on Wednesday, the Daily Beast reported.
“After our internal review, we clearly saw areas where the employee violated district policy and did not meet our standards and expectations,” Superintendent Jill Baker said, according to the Daily Beast. “We believe the decision to terminate this officer’s employment is warranted, justified and quite frankly, the right thing to do.”
Gonzalez had joined the LBUSD as a school safety officer earlier this year, according to a Long Beach Post story. He had previously served as a police officer in the Southern California cities of Los Alamitos and Sierra Madre, spending just a few months in each place.
A school district spokesperson told CNN that Rodriguez was not a student at Millikan. She had previously been a student at another school in the district.
School safety officers are “armed officers who are employed by the Long Beach Unified School District,” the Long Beach Post report said. “They are not full-fledged peace officers like those employed by police departments, but they do carry guns and work closely with the Long Beach Police Department.”
You can watch the bystander video via the Long Beach Post below.
[Image via GoFundMe]
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