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Friends remember Mark Rodriguez

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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 To contribute in other ways, contact
* An opportunity to give to the Mark A. Rodriguez memorial fund, for the benefit of his family, will be posted on the church website,
* 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.

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  • The Don

    Sad end to a young man’s life who had so much ahead of him ! Condolences to family and friends!

  • Drew Doemling

    I’m not very religious, but I seriously doubt it was “God’s plan” to have this young man get shot in the head by random gunfire, like this representative from the school said. If that is your opinion on God, I’d seriously rethink your religion and beliefs. Stop saying it was God’s plan and start organizing for stricter gun control. I bet the people who are killed every day by guns, would love if someone organized to try and stop this from happening to another child. It does not take a rocket scientist or even a college graduate to know that if mentally unstable people exist, then having mass gun promotion and proliferation is not a very smart thing to do! No one is calling for banning all guns, the majority of Americans are just calling for stricter regulations on them. They are calling for a limit to how many bullets you can put into a gun and how fast you can reload. 90% of Americans want to eliminate loopholes in background checks. When are the survivors going to get some courage and proclaim #NotOneMore I know that my God would like that. God doesn’t believe that guns are the answer, I assure you of this!

    • Ben Mekkes

      Hey Drew, I am one of Mark’s best friends. I agree we use this term “God’s Plan” really loosely around the Church. I personally am sooo happy for Mark simply because I believe his work on earth was done. “God’s Plan” for Mark was finished, so God took him home. Many people will be saved from my best friend’s passing and that makes me stoked about his divine passing. If you think about it, how rare is an accident like this, he was giving a friend of his a ride home from our schools graduation. Then after Mark dropped his friend off safely and after the happy graduation, God took him painlessly. It couldn’t have been better timed, he wrote a life changing blog ( ), Just finished recording an amazing worship song ( ) and perfectly timed after all of his classmates finished their school year. His life has brought many of those around him closer to God. I miss him, but I’ll see him again, he just got to heaven alittle sooner then us, hope to see you there too :)

      Sorry I posted this twice, I just wanted it set as a reply to your comment

  • Paul Kimmy Outlaw

    Ben Mekkes, How lucky Mark must of been to have had a friend like you on this earth! That was beautifully written and I couldn’t agree more. God has warned us against getting too attached to this life and the stuff in this world. I’m trying hard to get ready for the day that I am blessed enough to leave here. Yes, I worry about my family and friends, but God is who we all need to be trying to please. Congrats to all of Mark’s friends on a year well done!
    Drew, It is true we need a better system of helping the mentally ill or even understanding why it is a label for every misdeed done. Where were all the mentally ill 25 yrs. ago? We as a society are creating monsters. People can’t be honest about how they feel for being politically correct. The backlash and jokes one gets for believing in God keeps alot of folks feeling lonely and judged. You yourself made light of a schools belief in God and a much more important life than the one we have here. You should seek their forgiveness for your rudeness. I will sign with my real name as I have nothing to fear, but fear itself….and since I’m over that, there is nothing left to fear.
    Yes, I believe in God and own a handgun ( not a weapon).

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