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U.S. attorney general offers condolences to family of Evelyn Rodriguez

Receiving the call from Jeff Sessions was "huge," Rodriguez's partner said. Suffolk police on Sunday would not answer questions about the investigation.

Evelyn Rodriguez, who became a national voice against MS-13 gang violence after her teenage daughter was beaten to death in 2016, was fatally struck by an SUV Friday in Brentwood following a dispute with the driver over the placement of a memorial to her child. (Credit: News 12 Long Island; Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger)

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions offered his condolences to the grieving family of Evelyn Rodriguez, citing her work fighting the MS-13 street gang after the death of her daughter, her family said Sunday.

“I appreciate it,” Freddy Cuevas, the longtime partner of Rodriguez and father of her slain daughter, said of the telephone call he received Saturday. “For him [Sessions] to take the time out to reach out to me and say Evelyn went through this tragic loss and our family did as well, for him to do that, that is huge.”

The nation’s top law enforcement official had met with Rodriguez when he visited Central Islip in April 2017 and vowed to “demolish” the MS-13 street gang following the killing of Rodriguez and Cuevas’ daughter, Kayla Cuevas, 16, and her friend Nisa Mickens, 15. The two were allegedly beaten to death by MS-13 gang members.

Rodriguez told Newsday after the meeting with Sessions that she asked the attorney general for additional federal money for programming in schools and the community.

“As parents that lost their loves ones, we just want to see positive change for our community and our school district,” Rodriguez said at the time.

The Justice Department did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.

The call from Sessions came after Rodriguez was fatally struck by a 2016 Nissan Rogue at 4 p.m. Friday on Ray Court near Stahley Street in Brentwood. The crash happened during a dispute with the driver, a relative of a resident of Ray Court, over the placement of a sidewalk memorial for Kayla Cuevas.

The driver “attempted to leave the scene and her vehicle struck Rodriguez,” police said in a statement Friday. A video of the dispute taken by News 12 Long Island shows Rodriguez and Cuevas standing near the SUV before Rodriguez was hit.

Rodriguez died a short time later at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore.

Suffolk police on Sunday declined to answer questions about the investigation.

“There’s nothing new and no one is available for interviews,” a department spokeswoman said in an email.

Police have not released the name of the SUV driver, who police in an earlier statement said “remained on scene and called 911.”

Barbara Medina , a crime victim advocate and family friend from Brentwood, said Sunday the woman whose SUV struck Rodriguez “should be held responsible. . . . To be mowed down like an animal. I’m sorry. No. We need justice at the end of the day.”

Medina said Rep. Peter King, (R-Seaford) had breakfast with her and Freddy Cuevas on Sunday and told them he was still in “disbelief” about Rodriguez’s death.

Medina said she and Cuevas urged the lawmaker to broadcast a commercial for his re-election bid that Rodriguez had recorded for him in the week leading up to her death.

Freddy Cuevas said on Sunday that the woman who hit Evelyn could have discussed the memorial with them. “There was no reason for any of this to go on,” he said, adding the driver “has to live with it; it’s on her forever.”

 With David Olson

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