A former Long Beach Unified School District safety officer who fatally shot an 18-year-old woman in September was charged Wednesday with her murder.
Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez, police said, was shot on Sept. 27 by Eddie F. Gonzalez, 51, a safety officer assigned to Millikan High School. Rodriguez died from her injuries two days later, leaving behind a four-month-old son.
Investigators said the situation began with an argument between Rodriguez and another student, witnessed by Gonzalez. The teen had gotten into a car driven by her boyfriend and was attempting to leave when Gonzalez began shooting at the back of the car as it drove away.
In an Oct. 6 press conference, District Superintendent Jill Baker said the officer violated use-of-force protocols, clarifying that officers are not allowed to fire shots at moving cars except in cases of self-defense. Gonzalez has since been fired by the district.
Rodriguez’s family and attorneys, who have long called for the former officer’s arrest, shared their thoughts in downtown Los Angeles following the district attorney's announcement Wednesday afternoon.
“Hopefully with this justice that we got, basically a month since she was killed, hopefully we can heal,” said Oscar Rodriguez, Mona’s brother. The only family member to attend the announcement, he said the rest of his family was still in shock.
“I don’t get how these people get hired,” Rodriguez added, calling out the officer’s checkered past as his sister’s “In Loving Memory” t-shirt draped over his shoulder.. “This type of criminal action should not be allowed in our state [or] country.”
Police arrested Gonzalez Wednesday and held him on $2 million bail, Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said. Investigators said they are also looking into the 20-year-old student who Rodriguez had an altercation with before the shooting.