The 28-year-old mother was sitting in the passenger seat of a car when she was shot twice in the torso. She died about an hour later at Silver Cross Hospital. Her 8-year-old daughter, who was in the backseat, was not hurt. Neither was her 20-year-old stepsister, who was behind the wheel.
Police said witnesses saw two people approach the car from the rear, but have little to go on. They said Rodriguez and her stepsister were involved in an altercation at a liquor store about three hours before the shooting.
"Very tragic situation for an 8-year-old to watch her mother being gunned down, right in front of her very own eyes. I can't imagine the trauma that must have caused," said Chief Fred Hayes, Joliet Police Department.
The Joliet Police Department says they have little to go on -- just that that witnesses on the block saw two people approach the car from the rear. It's also known Rodriguez and her stepsister -- with the 8-year-old in tow -- had an altercation at a liquor store three hours earlier.
The altercation involved two 17-year-old males that Joliet police said were not involved in the subsequent shooting. Joliet police detectives have talked to them but their investigation has not gotten much further, they say, because of a "code of silence" in the neighborhood -- an age old problem the police say has become chronic since gang activity started there in the 1980s.
"We have to decrease that fear of crime. Until we do that, residents won't come forward. So we have two main goals. We want to reduce crime. The second goal though is we want to reduce the fear of crime," said Chief Hayes.
Will County Crimestoppers have put out a reward for information on the case. Joliet police have taken extra steps to ensure the 8-year-old receives proper care from social services.
"We've got to stand up for a little 8-year-old girl. We have to stand up for her mother who was tragically gunned down. Together, we can make a difference," said Chief Hayes.