BRENTWOOD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A heartbroken Long Island mother who lost her daughter to gang violence is on a mission to use her pain to make a difference.
“Right now, I am Kayla’s voice,” Evelyn Rodriguez said.
Her 16-year-old daughter Kayla Cuevas, a basketball star who dreamed of a career in the Secret Service, was found beaten to death two months ago, along with her best friend Nisa Mickens, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.
The crimes were part of six unsolved gang-related homicides that shattered the Brentwood community.
“I have faith, I pray all day everyday that they catch these individuals that has done this to our kids,” Rodriguez said.
Inside Brentwood High School before hundreds of residents at a packed school board meeting, she vented her frustrations for the first time.
“A child should not have to wait five months to see a social worker when there’s a problem,” Rodriguez said. “Enough is enough with what is going on.”
She questioned the school board’s commitment.
“My goal and my agenda in Kayla’s name is to make sure the Brentwood School District is safe for kids,” she said.
Rodriguez wants those affiliated with gangs to be kicked out so that teachers can teach and students can learn.
“Playing ball, going to the park, that is what kids should be doing. Having fun not worrying about who’s behind them, who’s watching. Not having a memory that they had to bury their friends,” she said.
She and other parents meet often with Suffolk County police who are not yet releasing a motive in the killings but pledge arrests will be made soon.
Rodriguez hopes all parents can share in solving the crisis in town.
“The community — let’s get together, let’s find a solution to this problem,” she said.
The superintendent told CBS2 the district is installing 253 cameras around the community and hiring 11 more security personnel at the high school.
Rodriguez wants more spending on school safety, rather than on a proposed school lunch manager and public relations specialist.