Activist Evelyn Rodriguez honored and laid to rest

Family, friends, and community members bade a final farewell to Evelyn Rodriguez on Friday.

The 50-year-old mom was on a mission after her 16-year-old daughter Kayla and her best friend were brutally murdered by members of the vicious MS-13 gang.

At her funeral on Friday loved ones remembered her as a focused and fearless leader who offered hope and inspired the community.

An SUV struck and killed Evelyn last week in the same spot her daughter's body was found two years ago. She was planning a candlelight vigil in Kayla's memory and got into a heated argument with someone over the placement of a memorial.

"She always had a smile on her face, she was always wonderful to be around," Maria Heuskin said. "She always thought about everybody else first."

After she lost her daughter, Evelyn turned her grief and mourning into power. Her impact is evident in the showing of support from friends, family, members of law enforcement, and elected officials who came to pay their respects.

"She was kind, she was warm, she was full of love," Barbara Medina, a friend and an advocate, said. "She turned pain into passion and she became a warrior to her community and we can't take that away from her."

Those who eulogized her urged others to continue in her legacy. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone shared an important message to Evelyn's daughters: that their mom was a real-life superhero.

"Heroes are people who help save others," Bellone said. "They overcome significant challenges to make a difference in people's lives."

Evelyn's lifelong partner Freddy Cuevas held back tears as he vowed to continue the fight against gang violence.

"Evelyn Rodriguez was my warrior, my rock, my female lion in this jungle that we will live in," Cuevas said. "She was always there for me but now she's going to be watching over us and everyone else that she loved."

Evelyn was laid to rest beside her daughter Kayla.

Police aren't commenting on the investigation and have not identified the driver. So far, no charges have been filed.