Mark Rodriguez was heading home from a graduation party when he was killed by random gunfire. The teen had just finished his junior year at Norfolk Christian that day and was the high school worship leader.
Police say he was the first person 29-year-old James Brown shot Friday night in a random burst of gun fire.
The red minivan Rodriguez was driving ended up in the median on Chesapeake Blvd. An uprooted tree, broken glass and tire marks are still visible.
A rising senior, Rodriguez served as his high school's worship leader.
In April, the teen posted a blog entitled "Heaven," writing in part, "I've been meditating on heaven a lot lately, and I must say, it wells my eyes with tears of joy."
Mark's father, The Rev. Carlos Rodriguez, is pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Virginia Beach. The Church posted the following statement on its website:
Dear friends of the Rodriguez family,
We at Redeemer Presbyterian Church know that you are joining us in prayer for the family and friends of Mark Rodriguez as we mourn the loss of our son, our brother, our friend. No words can express the anguish and sadness we all feel in the wake of the unexpected news of Mark’s untimely death. In this season of grieving, as we cling to our only hope—the love of God in the redemptive work of His Son, Jesus Christ—we are reminded again of the power of love and life over death and loss.
Since the Rodriguez family is loved by so many, both in the Virginia Beach area and beyond, we hope to coordinate our efforts to serve them well as they grieve. To that end, the family has requested that we honor them in the next few days and weeks and months in the following ways:
* Please send emails to express your condolences rather than texts, phone calls, or personal visits.
* Practical help is appreciated. For meals, contact Erin Strickland by text at 843-901-5304 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contribute in other ways, contact office@redeemerVB.com.
* An opportunity to give to the Mark A. Rodriguez memorial fund, for the benefit of his family, will be posted on the church website, www.redeemerVB.com.
* Information about a memorial service and funeral arrangements will also be posted at the church website as soon as it becomes available.
"I'm sure Mark thought nothing of that and said, 'hmm, I wonder why I have heaven on my mind lately?' and no idea what kind of impact that would have on people in a few weeks," said Janita Smith with Norfolk Christian Schools.
"His passion in life was worship, leading people in worship, leading people to the presence of God," Smith said, "he was just that outgoing personality that you couldn't help but smile when you were around him."
An avid photographer, Rodriguez had a website and Facebook page dedicated to his passion for capturing beauty.
Those who knew him say his smile, creativity and love for God will no doubt live on.
"He is actually experiencing all of those things that he was so excited about. We just had no idea it would be now," said Smith.
A Prayer/Memorial Service will be held Sunday at 2 p.m. for Rodriguez at Norfolk Christian Schools.