Omar Rodriguez went shopping with his mother for a homecoming suit at Lebanon High School last month and spotted a stylish tuxedo in the rental store.
He loved her, but he was not available to hire for dancing. Instead, Rodriguez, 16, got a vest and bow tie that he wore with a dress shirt for the event at his high school.
Rodriguez, told his mother he wanted to wear this special tuxedo for his graduation ceremony in 2023 under his cap and dress.
“It’s GQ right there,” he said.
Less than four weeks after returning home, however, Rodriguez was shot dead in an after-school robbery a few blocks from his home in Lebanon.
He was buried last week in the tuxedo he wanted, his mother, Jennifer Morales, said.
Police charged two teenagers in the fatal October 27 shooting at 3:30 p.m. near 6th and Lehman streets. Jaedyn Gaines, 17, has been jailed for homicide and conspiracy and Jaden Pagan, 15, is still on the run. Pagan has been charged with homicide, robbery, conspiracy and other crimes.
The two men each brought a gun to meet Rodriguez and his friend with the intention of stealing marijuana from them, according to court records filed to present evidence against the defendants. Pagan exchanged social media messages with Rodriguez on Snapchat just before the meeting, according to records.
Gaines approached Rodriguez’s friend from the passenger side of the car and took the marijuana while Pagan approached Rodriguez from the driver’s side, records show. Rodriguez got into a fight with Pagan over Pagan’s gun and that’s when Gaines approached and shot him in the chest, court records show.
The thieves fled, according to CCTV that captured parts of the crime, and Rodriguez fled.
But the injured teenager quickly lost consciousness, cut two vehicles and overturned his Honda Pilot.
When the police arrived, they found Rodriguez unconscious next to the vehicle. His friend ran to Rodriguez’s home, which was only a few blocks away, and alerted Rodriguez’s girlfriend to what had happened. Rodriguez’s mother was at work.
DeAnni Vazquez ran to the scene, but her boyfriend had already been taken to hospital. When she, Morales and others arrived at the hospital, they were told he had died from his gunshot wound.
Vazquez said that minutes before her boyfriend was shot, she and Rodriguez were talking about taking school more seriously as they got older. Then he said he was going to meet people and that he would come back right away.
Vasquez had known Rodriguez from kindergarten and they started dating about two years ago. He was a perfect gentleman, she said, opening doors for him and meeting her with an umbrella when it was raining outside.
He was an expressive and captivating storyteller, she said, loyal and generous to his friends. He dealt with her social anxiety and made phone calls for her and ordered food from restaurants, including extra ranch dressing, when she didn’t feel like dealing with people.
Rodriguez was mostly a homebody, according to Vazquez. He was either at school, or with Vazquez or his best friend, or playing video games with his older brother Jaylen.
It was a “goof ball,” her mother said with an easy smile. He had a 5 year old sister who called him “Memar”, instead of Omar. He wanted to grow up and buy a house for his mother someday. He worried about her after she battled breast cancer and had surgeries last year.
Morales had just returned to full-time work a few weeks before his son was killed.
“I beat the cancer and then had to bury my son,” she said. “He was a lovely child. He loved very much. We loved him so much. His girlfriend’s parents loved him.
He was close to his aunt, his mother’s sister, and had the key to his house. He would let himself in and start rolling on the floor with his dog, Jaclyn Morales said. Then he asked her if she was cooking something.
He loved to eat and often contacted his family members by text message to see “who was cooking,” Jaclyn Morales said.
Now relatives are struggling to accept that he was killed for around $ 90, a move that has ruined their families and could ruin the families of the defendants if convicted.
“My son was everyone’s protector,” Jennifer Morales said. “I think he saw that gun pointed at his friend and took action. Right now, I wish he wasn’t like that. But I know my son was not going to fall without a fight.
“No one will ever be the same again. “
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