Mona Rodriguez, the 18-year-old mother who was shot in the head by a Long Beach school safety officer on September 27, died Tuesday after being taken off life support.
Rodriguez “gave a heart, a liver, lungs, and two kidneys, to save the lives of five people,” the family said in a statement. “All the Doctors and Nurses of Long Beach Memorial Hospital on Mona’s floor gave a Hero’s Celebration to Mona by standing in the hallway as Mona was taken to the operation while her favorite song was played.”
Rodriguez was shot by Long Beach Unified School District school safety officer Eddie F. Gonzalez as her boyfriend drove her away from an alleged altercation with a student at a parking lot near Millikan High School. Police had initially said Rodriguez was shot in the upper body but her family maintained that she was struck in the back of the head.
“I was told that the bullet used was a hollow-type point bullet,” Rodriguez’s oldest brother, Iran Rodriguez, told ABC 7. “On impact, it exploded inside her brain and shards of metal bounced inside her head.”
Gonzalez has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Long Beach Police Department and the District Attorney’s office, but Rodriguez’s family says she was unarmed and want him charged with murder.
“This school safety officer decided he was going to be the judge, jury and the executioner,” Mona’s other brother, Omar Rodriguez, told the station.
School safety officers like Gonzalez are hired by LBUSD and carry firearms, but they do not make arrests or investigate crimes. Gonzalez, however, had served two stints as a real cop before the school district hired him in January, 2021—and both jobs are notable for how quickly they ended.
As the Long Beach Post reports, Gonzalez was a full-fledged police officer in Los Alamitos from January 8, 2019 to April 8, 2019. During his induction, the Chief of Police there said Gonzalez had served in the U.S. Marines and had spent 24 years working for Time Warner Cable as an abuse investigator before he was laid off.
Next, Gonzalez joined the Sierra Madre police force in Los Angeles County in September 2019 and left that job in July 2020.
Gonzalez also graduated from the Orange County Sheriff Department’s regional training academy as a reserve deputy in 2015, and was named reserve deputy of the year in 2018.
The city of Los Alamitos would not tell the Post why Gonzalez left the department, citing confidentiality, and Sierra Madre declined to confirm whether he had ever been a peace officer there.
LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou confirmed that the district knew about Gonzalez’s brief, previous law enforcement history and that those agencies were contacted during his vetting.
“Nothing in those checks was disqualifying,” Eftychiou said.