A Virginia teenager was shot and killed on the way home from a high school graduation and a police officer gunned down by a raging ex-con who was later killed by police, authorities said.
Mark Rodriguez, 17, was killed by James Andrew Brown after he began shooting from his jeep around 11 p.m. Friday. Rodriguez was struck by a bullet while he was sitting inside his own vehicle, WVEC reported.
Rodriguez had just finished his junior year at Norfolk Christians School. He was driving home from the school’s graduation festivities when he was killed, according to the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
Police told the newspaper that after the teen was shot, Officers Brian Jones and Curtis Allison responded to the call, pursuing Brown to his home.
Brown, 29, opened fire from his doorway with a high-powered rifle, hitting Jones and killing him, the newspaper reported. Allison was wounded when he came to the aid of his fallen partner.
Steve Koptchak told WVEC he was outside when Brown started shooting at the officers.
"It was instantaneous," Koptchak told the station. "As soon as the dude stopped the vehicle, gunfire started raining down," he said. "There was probably 30 to 40 gunshots; there was an awful lot of gunshots."
After the officers were shot, Brown fled in his jeep. The chase ended when he rammed his vehicle into a parked car. He was shot dead as he struggled with a police officer who was trying to arrest him.
Jones was on the force for five years. He leaves behind a wife, two sons and a daughter.
“He's trained, he responded, he did everything he was supposed to do," said Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith, according to WVEC. "My heart goes out to the family, my heart goes out to anybody that worked with him. I'm a cop just like everybody else is. This hurts...when one of us goes, especially in the line of duty like this, it's tough."
The Virginian-Pilot said Brown was convicted of an assault on a police officer in 2010. In June 2011 the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and he was sentenced to one year in prison. In July 2012 he was convicted of carrying a loaded weapon and received a one year suspended sentence.
Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim said at a press conference Saturday that police were trying to determine a motive for what sparked the violence.
“There are going to be a lot of questions,” Fraim said, “and right now, there aren’t enough answers.”
In April, Rodriguez blogged about Heaven, WVEC reported. He wrote: “God is super good. I can’t wait to be with him forever."
"He was so looking forward to heaven and that is what Mark would want people to focus on and that's where he is right now. He is with Jesus," school spokeswoman Janita Smith told the station.