CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) – The birthday party that 7-year-old Kevin Antonio Rodas attended Saturday was a last minute get together for family. And, Kevin’s mother was getting ready to leave the party but decided to stay a little bit longer because the pinata was going to be broken soon. She wanted her son to get some candy.
The pinata broke but Kevin didn’t live much longer.
“When the pinata finally broke, that’s when the first six shots rang out,” said Jose Gamez, who hosted the birthday party for his two-year-old daughter. “Everybody thought it was fireworks but when we felt the bullets almost hit our feet – they were so close – they finally figured out there were bullets that were actually striking and everybody tried to cover the children first and they ran inside.”
Not everyone dodged the bullets. According to family members, about 40 shots were fired. Police and relatives said four people were hit, three not seriously.
No one could get to Kevin in time. He was shot in the head.
Gamez said relatives scooped up the little boy to rush him to a hospital. They flagged down police officers who were responding to the shooting.
The seven-year-old didn’t survive. He went to a birthday party and never made it back home alive.
“You would think a birthday party would be a fun place to be, to be gathered around your family,” said Analyssa Lopez, who is Kevin’s cousin. “You never expect something so tragic to happen in such a quick instance.”
Forty-eight hours after the shooting, the family is just as dazed and distraught as they were the moment it happened.
“I’m feeling distraught. I mean, it’s a hard thing. I don’t wish this for any family at all,” Lopez said. “This was a child. He had his life before him.”
Gamez said he was feeling “very bad” because “we won’t get to see Kevin play anymore.”
Lopez said her little seven year old cousin was “a joyful boy. Smart. He was so caring, he cared for all of his cousins the same way.”
The shooting. His killing. It all knocked Kevin’s mother to her knees.
Relatives are now keeping an eye on her. They said she’s in the hospital because she was so overcome with grief – her blood pressure skyrocketed.
“His mother right now – she’s just playing back all the fun memories she has with him,” Lopez said.
As Kevin’s family plans his funeral, they’re turning to the community for help. Relatives said his mother cannot afford burial costs so they started a GoFundMe to raise money.
They’re also hoping the community will step forward and deliver the shooter to police.
Lopez said she is hoping the gunman surrenders himself.
“Turn yourself in. God’s watching over you wherever you are,” she said. “Clean out your conscience. Do the right thing.”
And, Jose Gamez – the cousin who was hosting the birthday party for his 2 year old girl – also has words for the shooter.
“Touch your heart. We’re all human,” he said. “We as fathers and parents understand what it feels like when someone attacks our children.”
Gamez keeps replaying the night. He doesn’t understand why someone shot at the house.
“Everything was going fine. No one was drinking. There wasn’t any loud music playing,” he said. “It just the children screaming over the joy of breaking the pinata at the moment.”
That moment when the pinata broke – and the candy spilled – was the moment Kevin’s mother waited for her son to have.
It was the moment his life ended.