Community remembers teenager, Norfolk officer killed in shooting spree


by 13News Now

Posted on June 1, 2014 at 7:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 4 at 2:06 PM

NORFOLK -- Friends and loved ones gathered Sunday afternoon to remember Mark Rodriguez who was killed during a shooting spree on May 30th.

Norfolk Christian Schools held a service at 2:00 p.m. on the Upper School Campus where 17-year-old Rodriguez was a rising senior.

The school posted a statement on its website with regard to the service:

We are reeling with shock and sadness at the sudden loss of senior Mark Rodriguez.

His perpetual grin, his heart full of worship, his passion for serving that breathed life into everyone around him will be missed in ways we cannot yet imagine.

As we move through the grief of the next hours and days, we can still rejoice, knowing that Mark is face to face with our Savior in the best worship service of his life!

Rodriguez's mom, dad, two brothers and sister attended the service.

"I wanted to let you know that the Mark you knew, he's real," his mom told the hundreds gathered to remember him. "We've done the horrible thing of reading his journals and he's the real deal. In fact, he's actually better than we thought he was."

Rodriguez's mom said all her son wanted to do was be a worship leader. His dad said his son had become an inspiration.

His dad also asked those in attendance to pray for the family of his son's killer.

"Pray for the family of James Brown," he said. "You know, if James were alive, I know for sure Mark would want him right there."

Norfolk Christian Schools had grief counselors available for those in attendance. The head of the school said counselors would be available throughout the summer.

Sunday morning, members of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, which Rodriguez's father serves as pastor, also remembered the 17-year-old who would have been playing bass guitar during service at Trantwood Elementary School in Virginia Beach.

"I think it's really a sad time.  There really isn't anybody I've talked to who hasn't been crying about it at some  point," said Rodriguez's friend, Phillip Sittering.

Rodriguez's final post on Instagram was a reference to Psalm 107.  Sittering posted on his own blog, writing a tribute and a farewell to Rodriguez, saying things including, 'The fight has been fought, and the rest he longed for has been won."

Sittering told 13News Now, "As hard as this day is for us, it's not a bad day for Mark, 'cause even reading his blog post, he was so hopeful for that joy."

Rodriguez was apparently on his way home after attending Norfolk Christian's graduation festivities Friday.

The shooting is under investigation, but at this time police do not believe Rodriguez was a target.

Police say the suspect James Andrew Brown started randomly shooting from his vehicle just before 11:00 p.m. on Chesapeake Boulevard.

Officer Brian Jones also was killed during the shooting spree after Brown got into a confrontation with police.

People left tributes to Jones on Wellington Road where he and Officer Curtis Allison were shot. Allison survived.

Redeemer Presbyterian Church set up the Mark A. Rodriguez Memorial Fund.

The church's website said a memorial celebration service for Rodriguez will take place Wednesday, June 4 at 1:00 p.m. at Tab Church, located at 7000 Granby Street, Norfolk.