The shooting death of a Redlands teen has neighbors at odds, with one in custody for the killing and a debate about self-defense running through the conversation.
The wife of a Erlindo Rodriguez, accused of murdering a teenager caught trespassing in their yard, said Thursday her husband was simply defending his family.
The woman, who does not want to be identified by name, said it all began at around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, when her husband spotted someone on their surveillance system, breaking into their yard.
"He saw the guy jumping into the back gate where my room and my kids room is at," she said.
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Rodriguez’s wife said her husband, a 34-year-old father of five children, ran outside to confront the intruder.
"The guy pulled out, I believe it was scissors, on Erlindo and was about to attack him," she said.
She said her husband opened fire in self defense, killing 17-year-old Marcus Green, a senior at nearby Redlands East Valley High School.
But family and friends of the victim, while acknowledging the teen was trying to steal marijuana from the alleged killer and was trespassing on their property, argue it should never have escalated to fatal violence.
"I'm very angry,” said Jessie Gonzales, Green’s mother. “It was totally unnecessary."
Gonzales admits her son was in Rodriguez’s yard.
"The guy shot him over his weed plants,” she said. “He was over here picking his weed plants and he shot my son in the chest."
She said Rodriguez could have handled the situation differently
"I think he should have detained my son or called the police"
David Padilla was a fellow student and a close friend of Green.
"He was a great kid he loved skateboarding," Padilla said.
Padilla is also a neighbor of Rodriguez, and spoke highly of him, too.
"He's a great guy he's always inside trying to take care of his family," he said.
But not everyone shares his view.
"I have witnessed him selling drugs to minors and whoever drives up on a bike," said neighbor Carolyn King.
Rodriguez is in police custody, charged with murder. Family and friends will hold a candlelight vigil for Green Thursday night.
But his wife insists that while the circumstances are tragic, her husband did what he thought was best at the time.
"He shouldn't have done what he did but I understand that he did it to protect his family,” she said.