A North County community gathered to remember a young mother, shot to death in what officials call a drug-fueled rage.
A group called DOVE, Dreaming of a Violence Free Escondido, organized the gathering at the First United Methodist church Thursday night.
Those who attended prayed for 20-year-old Morayma “Denise” Rodriguez, the mother of an 11-month-old girl.
Rodriguez’ body was found Feb. 1 along Lawrence Welk Court by a mountain biker.
"She left a little girl behind," said friend Cecilia Valdivia at the service. "It's heartbreaking."
The memorial on Thursday was also organized to raise awareness for violence in the community.
"It gives people a place to grieve, but it will also help raise a concern for one another. Because what happens here to one of us happens to all of us," said a DOVE coordinator.
Two men were named as suspects in the murder: Destin Withers and Jeffery Steven McCreary. They pled not guilty. Community members at the prayer service couldn't help but be angry at the suspects.
"We just want people like that out of the streets. We have kids, we have family members," Valdivia. "They need to stay in jail."
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A law enforcement source exclusively told NBC San Diego that McCreary and Rodriguez were riding inside a white Mercedes, in a secluded area north of Escondido, with a friend on Wednesday when McCreary pulled out a gun and shot her to death in what appears to be an unprovoked attack.
The law enforcement source added that the incident may have been caused by a "drug fueled rage."
The law enforcement source said McCreary didn’t know Rodriguez well and that McCreary and the victim may have just met in the last week or so.
Sheriff deputies arrested McCreary at about 7:47 a.m. Saturday following a brief vehicle pursuit in the 1100 block of North Broadway by members of the Sheriff's office. McCreary reportedly sustained an abrasion to his forehead during the arrest which he declined medical treatment for.
After his arrest, McCreary was booked into the Vista Detention Facility on one count of murder, a Sheriff’s official said.
McCreary’s next door neighbor said his arrest has left her shocked.
"When you don't know the person, if somebody really killed someone, and if you don't know them, that's different, when it's your neighbor, it stays with you,” the woman said.
A close family friend of Rodriguez said in a phone interview that the victim’s family was still in pain.
In a written statement, Rodriguez's family refers to McCreary as a monster and that it was a relief to know the person responsible has been arrested.
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