ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A local family is still searching for answers roughly six months after their loved one was shot.
Manuelito Rivera was one of two people to die after a shooting at a Walmart parking lot on June 28th. According to police, hundreds of people had gathered that night for a car event, before gun fire erupted.
“We collected over 50 casings from the parking lot from a variety of different handguns, so well over 50 shots were fired,” said Gregory Bello, Commander of Patrol Division at the Rochester Police Department.
Following the shooting, 18-year-old Angel Gonzalez-Pagan was pronounced dead. Two others went to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, while Rivera was taken to the hospital in critical condition.
“We woke up after midnight to the news that he was shot…that’s all that we knew. So we all, four of us, all the kids and I, headed towards (Rochester) General Hospital. We met his family and friends there, and we weren’t allowed to go inside because of COVID. But we stood outside for hours and hours until the sun came up actually, waiting to hear some news about Manny,” said Jaime Rodriguiez, the mother of Manny’s two sons.
Eventually, Rodriguiez said they were informed that Rivera was in a coma. For 2-and-a-half months, the 43-year-old was not conscious. Nearly every day, Rivera’s family visited him.
“Even though he wasn’t alert, we still would talk to him and play music, play his favorite music, salsa music on the TV, and we would just sit by his side and talk to him,” Rodriguiez said.
Rivera was a father of two. His oldest son is 20-years-old and his youngest was 18. Rodriguiez said seeing their father in a coma was tough for the boys.
“It was hard for me to comfort them. It was hard for me to explain to them, hard for them to understand why, because their dad was such a happy person, had no enemies. Everybody loved him and enjoyed his company,” Rodriguiez said. “We’re all just wondering if we did one little thing, it would have kept him from going there and none of this would have happened to him.”
In early September, the family decided to take Rivera off life support after he showed no signs of improvement or alertness. The days since have been difficult.
“My kids are struggling every day with the loss of their dad. They need their dad, they long for their dad, as do I, but they are continuing with their lives because that’s what we have to do keep pushing and that’s exactly what their dad would tell them to do,” Rodriguiez said.
Rivera’s family remembers him as someone who was funny, loving, caring, and a great friend who liked to talk with anyone.
Now, roughly 6 months since the night of the shooting, they are still searching for answers about what happened that night. Rodriguiez called it “frustrating” that no suspect or suspects have been found.
“It’s very frustrating for us, myself and the boys, and Manny’s family, Manny’s parents, brothers and sisters, nieces, nephews, friends, to not have any answers because we know that Walmart has cameras and their cameras zoom in, and also there’s drone footage from above,” Rodriguiez said.
“There were also many people that were at the event, the car show, that we’re on Facebook live and recording from Facebook. So there’s a lot of footage everywhere. And we’re very confused as to why the police can’t put something together, give us more information,” she added.
Bello said the night of the shooting, police started an investigation that is still on going.
“Since then, we’ve been working on talking to witnesses from the shooting, pulling videos from the shooting, we’ve been working on ballistic evidence based from the casings and other evidence that we’ve recovered from the scene,” Bello said.
However, Bello adds while there was a lot of video that surfaced from the night of the shooting, it hasn’t necessarily helped solve the crime.
“Video is great, but video isn’t, in and of itself, gonna solve something, right? Video gives us a great idea of what happened, great idea of where evidence is, things along the line, But we also need people that were there to say who that person is in the video,” Bello said.
“Every little piece of information helps us solve a crime, so if anybody was there that night, those people that were there that night, we really need to talk with you and our investigators need to talk with those people. Any bit of information, you may not think it’s relevant, but it may be super relevant to us and case opening for us,” Bello said.
Rodriguez said while she doesn’t believe anyone is going to come forward months later, she hopes anyone that knows anything would come forward.
“Please don’t be afraid. Please put yourself in our position to try to understand how we’re feeling waiting for answers. Manny, needs justice. Not only for the families of the victims, but for the victims themselves,” Rodriguiez said.
If you have any information on the shooting, you are asked to call Rochester Police, Major Crimes Unit, or Crime Stoppers.
- Rochester Police: 9-1-1
- Major Crimes Unit: (585) 428-7157 or MajorCrimes@cityofrochester.gov
- Crime Stoppers: (585) 423-9300