Rodriguez spoke constantly of his wife and daughters and worried how they would manage without him. "They were his world," said Myrna de Luna, owner of the beauty school. "He'd register them for school. He'd shop for his daughters and wife -- buy their dresses, even their underwear."
A few months before the deadly attack, he'd quit the beauty school to work at the jewelry store because it paid $10 a week more, but he never liked the new job. Unarmed and alone, he worried about having to protect the store.
On Saturdays he cleaned the machines at the beauty school for extra cash. "He was looking for money anywhere he could find it," De Luna said. Most other days, he dropped by there to ask for his job back.
To work at the jewelry store, Rodriguez had to leave home early and come back late. The morning before he left for the last time, Oralia asked her husband whether she could look for work. Rodriguez had always said no. But that morning, he said maybe she should, after all, interview for a job.
She went to a factory that day. She was being interviewed in the afternoon when her family sent word that she was needed at home.
The war moves on
On the evening of March 14, Nati Perez's family gathered on Esperanza Avenue, hoping. The shootings had been reported on television and radio. A cousin who worked at the hospital where the city morgue is located called, saying that one of the bodies looked like Nati.
Perez's son Victor and his aunt went to the hospital to see for themselves. "Her face was destroyed, but she had a mole above her lip and that's how my aunt recognized her," Victor recalled.
Monterrey officials pledged to help with the funeral. "It was just promises," Victor said. The family buried her in the city cemetery near the state prison.
Abraham, her youngest son, seldom ate; her husband spent his nights crying in the upstairs bedroom he had built for the couple. He has stopped drinking. Perez's sister drops by to cook and clean the house on Esperanza Avenue.
"It doesn't feel the same," said nephew Joel Lopez. "Here my aunt was everything. She was the one who gave the house spirit."
Merchants along Francisco Madero Avenue say they miss Fernando Rodriguez.
"It took a long time to get used to the idea that he was dead," said Lizcano, who ran from his cellphone shop after the shooting and was the first to find the bodies.
For his daughter's 15th birthday last year, the Rodriguez family held a modest dinner at their house.
The jewelry store moved two days after the attack. The storefront that housed it is the only unrented space for blocks.
The four killings remain unexplained. The families have heard nothing from officials. The video shows no clerks or manager in the store at the time of the shooting -- a source said the staff was upstairs eating lunch.
One theory is that the killers ambushed Espinosa to send a message to San Pedro's director of public safety, Rogelio Lozano, whose family owns a chain of jewelry stores that included the shop attacked.
"The citizens have to guess," said Marcos, the businessman and San Pedro community activist. "One guess is that [Espinosa] was involved with one gang and the other killed him. Or there's the one that you'd like to believe, which is that, for having done his job, they killed him."
Kidnappings of important sampetrinos continue. In August, 17 months after the slayings, thousands of residents marched through the streets of downtown Monterrey as part of a national mobilization against drug violence. The cartels' warring, meanwhile, has drifted elsewhere; it has left more than 6,000 fatalities nationwide in less than two years.
But in San Pedro, the killing of Espinosa created little sustained outrage. There were no fundraisers, no trusts set up for his daughters.
The girls live with their mother's family. Their grandfather, Lucio Melendez, 57, supports them. He earns $100 a week as a security guard, and wonders why anyone in Mexico would want to be a cop.
Quinones is a Times staff writer.
About this seriesA team of Los Angeles Times reporters and photographers has been chronicling drug-related violence that has claimed more than 6,000 lives in Mexico in less than two years. Earlier stories and additional material, including the security-camera footage of the slayings described in this story, are available online.