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Mom of Explorer killed in drive-by speaks out

August 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A grieving mother spoke out on Monday after a drive-by shooter killed two men in Whittier, including a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Explorer.

"I hope God can forgive him because he took my baby," said Lupe Rodriguez, mother of one of the victims.

Investigators said Cesar Rodriguez, 19, and Larry Villegas, 24, were standing in front of a house in the 11800 block of Painter Avenue just after 3 a.m. Sunday when a gray Scion pulled up, and the driver opened fire.

There were at least four people in the car, officials said. Both victims died at the scene.

Lupe Rodriguez knows nothing can bring her youngest son back. She took comfort in the memories of seeing his face every morning.

"He would say, 'Good morning mother,' and I'd say, 'Good morning son,' and he's not there anymore. I walked in this morning and he wasn't there," she said through her tears. "That's what I miss the most."

Authorities said Cesar Rodriguez had been a volunteer with the sheriff's department for four years and had applied for the second time to become a deputy.

"He told me, 'Mom, this time, they're going to accept me,' and I said, 'Yes baby, they will. They will accept you this time,'" Lupe Rodriguez said.

Officials said Cesar Rodriguez was one of their most enthusiastic volunteers.

"A lot of times during an explorer meeting, we would always need volunteers for a certain event, and Cesar was always the first one to volunteer," said Capt. Patrick Maxwell of the Norwalk Sheriff's Station. "He's just an incredible young man. It's ironic. He wants to join law enforcement to fight crime and he dies a victim of crime."

The Explorers program gives young people who are interested in a career in law enforcement a chance to perform various duties within the department.

Anyone with information related to the case is urged to call the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at (323) 890-5500.

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