Brentwood activist Evelyn Rodriguez will be laid to rest Friday in a Central Islip cemetery beside her daughter Kayla.
Rodriguez transformed into an anti-gang crusader after MS-13 members allegedly killed Kayla, 16, and a friend, Nisa Mickens, 15, in 2016. An SUV struck and killed Rodriguez at a Brentwood sidewalk memorial set up for her daughter Friday — exactly two years after the discovery of Kayla’s body. .
“They lived together, they died in the same place and they will be in heaven together,” said the Rev. Stanislaw Wadowski, pastor of St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church in Brentwood on Tuesday. “As tragic as this is for us, they are already in each other’s company.”
Several hundred mourners, including Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), are expected to attend Rodriguez’s funeral Mass Friday at St. Anne’s.
Graveside services will follow at Queen of All Saints Cemetery in Central Islip.
Police will be on hand to help with traffic at both the funeral and Thursday’s wake, which is scheduled from 2 to 9 p.m. at Michael J. Grant Funeral Home in Brentwood.
“Everyone is looking to pay their respects because of the work she’s done in the community,” funeral home owner Michael J. Grant said of Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, 50, died Friday on Ray Court in Brentwood before a scheduled vigil to mark two years since the discovery of Kayla’s body.
An SUV struck Rodriguez after she argued with the driver over the memorial to her slain daughter, whose body was found a few yards away. Suffolk police and District Attorney Timothy Sini’s office are continuing the investigation into Rodriguez’s death.
Authorities have said MS-13 members attacked Cuevas and Mickens with bats and machetes in September 2016. The deadly assault cast a national spotlight on Long Island’s gang problem and caught the attention of President Donald Trump.
After Kayla’s death, Rodriguez became a vocal advocate who lobbied state and federal officials to fund anti-gang and after-school programs for at-risk children.
She met with President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and was a White House guest at Trump’s January State of the Union address.
Cuomo, Sini, King and other dignitaries are expected to eulogize Rodriguez at Friday’s funeral, according to Marge Baum, a pastoral assistant at St. Anne’s. Suffolk County Legislator Monica Martinez (D-Brentwood), Suffolk Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas are also expected to attend the funeral.
Wadowski, who will celebrate the funeral Mass, said Rodriguez used her grief to advocate for good.
“She gave her life, not fighting for Kayla, but fighting for the rest of the kids, the kids of everyone else,” Wadowski said.