Suspect identified in stabbing death of teen social media star at Temecula Walmart
Kevin Rodriguez, 19, lived life to the fullest, capturing crazy stunts on his Instagram account that often frightened his mother. “He liked to cliff jump and jump off bridges and stuff and see how many flips he could do before he hit the water,” Traci Rodriguez told CBS Los Angeles. “I was always afraid, told him you’re going to get hurt. But I never thought he would get hurt this way.” Kevin Rodriguez died Wednesday after being stabbed in the heart in an apparent road-rage clash in a Walmart parking lot in Temecula, Calif., according to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Authorities arrested James Fortney, 40, of Temecula, at the scene on suspicion of voluntary manslaughter, the department said.
The teenager, whose Instagram account had more than 36,000 followers, had gone to Walmart with his girlfriend for some groceries about noon Wednesday, his family told KABC. On the street near the shopping center, the couple encountered a man who was honking angrily at pedestrians and other motorists, Atticus Rodriguez, Kevin’s father, told KTLA. The man followed them into the Walmart parking lot as they walked to the store.
“He got his phone like this, he started recording it,” Atticus Rodriguez told KABC. “And with the other hand, first he choked him. Kevin was trying to get away and that’s when he got stabbed.” Atticus Rodriguez told KABC the attacker then seemed to have a change of heart. “When he realized what he did, he started helping him,” he told the station. “Trying to bring him back to life. That was really weird. How do you do that to somebody, then realize what you did and try to help him? It makes no sense to me at all.”
His girlfriend, who was not identified, jumped into their car and told Kevin Rodriguez to get in, but by then the teen had collapsed, Atticus Rodriguez told KTLA. She ran back to him. “He stopped breathing in her arms,” Atticus Rodriguez told the station. His son was taken to a local hospital, where he later died. “My son was a good boy,” Traci Rodriguez told KABC. “He had lots of friends. I miss him so much.”
A GoFundMe account has been established to assist the family with expenses. By Thursday morning, the drive had already exceeded its $10,000 goal with more than $11,000 in pledges.