Diana Rodriguez lost her daughter to a gangster with gun. It was three years ago, on Mother’s Day.
“My daughter was an innocent bystander,” Rodriguez said. “A loving, special girl. Her killer is still on the street.”
Samantha Guzman, 18, was shot on May 14, 2006 at E. 169th Street and Washington Avenue, two weeks before her prom, a month before her high school graduation. Her story made the national news.
On Saturday, May 9, the Bronx chapter of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence will hold a Mother’s Day Eve rally to remember Guzman and children like her. The rally will begin at noon, near E. 139th Street and Brook Avenue.
After a rally in 2008, someone handed Rodriguez a note – the name and address of Guzman’s killer. Rodriguez gave the note to a detective; the NYPD recognized the name, Rodriguez said. But no one from the neighborhood has agreed to testify.
According to NYAGV, 60 percent of homicides remain unsolved nationwide. In the Bronx, witnesses often refuse to testify, loyal to the code of the street.
Rodriguez and NYAGV volunteer Gloria Cruz endorse a code of responsibility – testify or watch the culprit kill again.
“No one will take the stand,” Cruz said. “We want the kids to understand – it’s not snitching, it’s saving a life.”
In March, the Guzman case made headlines again. Four reputed drug dealers – gang members from the Washington Avenue neighborhood – wound up in a federal court. A number of television stations and newspapers linked the men to Guzman’s killer. Rodriguez began to hope. Then silence. Nothing came of the reports. Rodriguez left her job in shock.
“It was all over the news,” she said. “It opened an old wound.”
Rodriguez lives on Staten Island, where Guzman attended high school. Guzman was living in the Bronx when she was shot. A Bronx baby, she moved back to the borough in 2005 after her father suffered an accident.
“Three years later, I’m still feeling the pain,” said Edwin Guzman. “She was the best, of all my children the closest to me. We need to get these guns off the street.”
NYADV members spent April 29 in Albany to promote gun control. Cruz and others support microstamping technology. Guns equipped with microstamping technology release numbered shell casings that allow police to link crimes and missing guns.
“Children are dying,” Rodriguez said. “People are afraid to speak up. I want it to stop.”