Long Beach police on Thursday announced they have opened a homicide investigation into the death of Mona Rodriguez, the 18-year-old mother who died after being shot by a school safety officer.
The development comes two days after Rodriguez was removed from life support and one day after the The Long Beach Unified School District’s board voted unanimously to fire the safety officer, who was identified as Eddie F. Gonzalez.
Rodriguez was shot on the afternoon of Sept. 27 in the area of Spring Street and Palo Verde Avenue, near Millikan High School.
According to the Long Beach Police Department’s preliminary investigation, the school safety officer had been driving in the area when he saw Rodriguez and a 15-year-old girl fighting in the street. Two others — a 20-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy — were also somehow involved, but how much they participated is being probed, a police news release stated.
Rodriguez and the two males — Rafeul Chowdhury, the father of Rodriguez’s 5-month-old son, and his brother, Shahriear Chowdhury — then got into a gray sedan and tried to drive away from the scene. At that point, Gonzalez approached and opened fire on the vehicle, hitting the young mother in the upper body, according to police.
The officer had warned Rodriguez and the other teen girl that he would use pepper spray if they didn’t stop fighting — which they did — but that he didn’t give any other warnings prior to the shooting, according to Rafeul Chowdhury.
“All we did is just got in the car and left,” he said last week. “He never told us to stop anytime soon.”
The district’s Board of Education decision to terminate Gonzalez’s employment was made after it was determined he had violated LBUSD’s Use of Force Policy, which states that officers “shall not fire at a fleeing person, shall not fire at a moving vehicle, and shall not fire through a vehicle window unless circumstances clearly warrant the use of a firearm as a final means of defense.”
Long Beach police detectives are now investigating the deadly shooting as a possible homicide and will share information from the criminal probe with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for independent review, according to the release. It’s not yet known whether prosecutors will file charges in the case.
Anyone with information is asked to call Long Beach Homicide Detectives Ethan Shear or Jose Rodriguez at 562-570-7244. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 800-222-8477 or by going to the website www.LACrimeStoppers.org.