School safety officer charged with murder over shooting of 18-year-old mother

A high school safety officer in Los Angeles has been charged with murder after he allegedly killed a teenage mother.

Eddie Gonzalez, 51, is accused of shooting 18-year-old Manuela “Mona” Rodriguez on 27 September as she fled an altercation with another teenager outside Millikan High School in Long Beach. As Ms Rodriguez left in a car, authorities say, Mr Gonzalez shot her in the head.

The teen was taken to a hospital, where she went into a coma and was later declared braindead. On 5 October, she was taken off life support and died. She leaves behind a six-month-old son.

“It’s an unfortunate, unnecessary death that left a six-month-old without a mother, a family without a daughter, and clearly a tremendous loss to our entire community,” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón told reporters on Wednesday.

Mr Gonzalez has been charged with one count of murder. His arraignment is scheduled for Friday at the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Long Beach Branch.

The case is still being investigated by the Long Beach Police Department, the DA’s office said.

“We must hold accountable the people we have placed in positions of trust to protect us,” Mr Gascón said in a statement. “That is especially true for the armed personnel we traditionally have relied upon to guard our children on their way to and from and at school.”

The day after Ms Rodriguez died, the board of the Long Beach Unified School District voted unanimously to fire Mr Gonzalez.

“The unanimous decision to terminate this officer’s employment occurred after our internal review clearly revealed areas where this employee violated District policy, and did not meet our expectations,” the board said in a statement.

On the day Ms Rodriguez was shot, her son’s father, Rafeul Chowdhury, and his brother, Shahriear Chowdhury, were also in the car with her. As Mr Chowdhury remembers it, the shooting came without warning.

“All we did is just got in the car and left,” Mr Chowdhury told KTLA. “He never told us to stop anytime soon.”

The Independent has attempted to reach Mr Gonzalez for comment.

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