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Drive-By Gunman Kills Shipyard Worker in Front of His Home

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A South San Diego man slain in a drive-by shooting near his home Monday night apparently was an innocent victim who was merely bidding farewell to a guest at his 7-year-old daughter’s birthday party when he was killed.

While escorting a 71-year-old family friend to his truck, Alfredo Rodriguez, 41, paused to chat at the curb in front of his home in the Greenfield Mobile Club, when a light-colored sedan drove through the trailer park about 10 p.m.

An occupant of the car had reportedly fired several gunshots into the roadway and at parked cars before driving to the 2800 block of Iris Avenue where Rodriguez lived, San Diego Police Lt. John Welter said.

Someone in the car then fired a single shot through a passenger window, Welter said. The bullet hit Rodriguez in the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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“The road is so narrow there,” Welter said. “The gunman could very well have reached out and touched him. . . . It was almost a point-blank situation . . . and they shot him for no apparent reason.”

Witnesses and relatives at the party told investigators that no words were exchanged between those in the car and the victim. Though witnesses were unclear as to the number of occupants in the sedan, they said the car’s headlights were turned off, and it never stopped rolling, police said.

Rodriguez had two children and was a welder and assistant foreman at Campbell Industries, where he had worked 19 years.

Rodriguez’s wife, Martha, who is eight months pregnant, said she heard gunfire and looked out her window as the car sped away.

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When she realized her husband was shot, she became hysterical, Welter said. As county medical examiner investigators arrived on the scene, Martha Rodriguez went into contractions and was rushed to the hospital.

“The contractions stopped,” Martha Rodriguez said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “And the doctor said the baby will be OK.”

After being examined and released from care at Kaiser Foundation Hospital, Rodriguez returned home. She was being attended to by her daughters, Martha, 9; Cynthia, 7; her mother, Julia Vasquez, and her brother, Ruben Vasquez.

“I’m with my family,” she said. “I’m trying to be strong.”

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Family members said Alfredo Rodriguez worked an early shift and would come home in the late afternoon, when the girls were returning from school. Several times a week, Rodriguez would take the family to nearby parks.

“When they went to the park, they sat together inside his pickup,” said Ruben Vasquez, 31, describing the snug fit in his brother-ion-law’s Isuzu King Cab truck. “It was their favorite thing to do.”

Rodriguez, a volunteer karate teacher at a youth center in San Ysidro and a singer in a mariachi band, made many friends in South San Diego and the South Bay where he was raised. Co-workers Tuesday were crestfallen upon hearing of his death, said an employee at Campbell Industries, a San Diego shipyard.

“You can feel the depression here, it’s obvious,” Campbell switchboard operator Nancy Molohon said. “When I came into the yard today, it felt like everybody was down.”

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Older brother Rogelio Rodriguez, 44, said the senselessness of the shooting makes the loss harder to take.

“We are trying to think where my brother went wrong,” Rogelio Rodriguez said. “We can’t think of anything.”


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