Omaha, NE - Her life, taken at age 19, police believe a former boyfriend may have killed her. Sunday, the community came together to remember south Omaha native, Melissa Rodriguez.
The south Omaha walk for peace began at 1:30 p.m. near 24th and N in the La Plaza de La Raza. Before the walk, Hispanic community leaders and Omaha mayor Jean Stothert challenged neighborhoods to take back the streets and end the violence.
With a loud speaker in hand, they yelled out to God to bless south Omaha and put an end to violence. Crying out a worn out phrase used all too often and yet the message is stronger than ever. "Enough is enough!" Said Claudia Hurta, who's one of many attendees fed up with hatred. "She was innocent, she was a child," says Hurta, referring Rodriguez. As she thinks about her own children, tears form in her eyes, "it's scary, it's scary." Like every parent, Hurta fears the world her children are growing up in and sobs for the parents of Melissa, she knows no parent should bury their child.
Nearly 150 people asked for peace, Mayor Stothert demanded it. "Every life lost is one too many." This walk formed just days after the murder of Rodriguez. Antoino Vargas, a pastor in south Omaha says the young people in the community need to come together and love one another. "We need to do this peace walk because recently, we're seeing a lot of violence here, not only in Omaha but in the Hispanic community."
As residents trekked their way to South High school, where Melissa walked on graduation day in 2012, their message of peace spreads and grows. More people show support.
The Rodriguez family did not attend the walk but those who did walk want the family to know, Melissa's death will be the start of a change south Omaha needs.
Read the story of Melissa Rodriguez here: www.kmtv.com/news/local/219993631.h