Family and friends filled close to three-hundred pews in remembrance of Rodrigo Díaz, the 22-year-old killed after witnesses say his GPS took him to the wrong driveway and 69-year-old homeowner Phillip Sailors used deadly force, citing fear of home invasion.
“Today our family loses a treasure: a son, brother, uncle and exceptional human being. Due to the indiscriminate use of arms paired with the irrationality of fear, we lost our beloved Rodrigo Díaz,” said older brother David Esteban Díaz during a Spanish-language funeral mass celebrated Thursday at Our Lady of the Americas Catholic Church in Lilburn, Georgia.
“We join thousands of families [victims of gun violence]. Today was our Rodrigo’s turn, a happy and peaceful kid, who had to pay with his life the mistake of going to the wrong address instead of receiving simple guidance… we beg our president and other competent authorities to initiate urgent and efficient action so no more innocents die at the hands of people who use guns indiscriminately,” said Díaz during the mass reading a statement on behalf of his entire family.
Scores of friends hugged and comforted Díaz’s family as they shed tears before and after the funeral mass, which was filled with prayer, song, and a euology by Díaz’s girlfriend, Angie Rebolledo, fighting back tears.
Díaz told NBC Latino he’s “disappointed [Sailors] is out on bond because you can’t just shoot and ask questions later. Call police. They say he had no record. My brother didn’t either.”
Family and friends are planning a peaceful protest when Sailors appears in court. A date is not currently set.
Díaz’s father, also named Rodrigo Díaz, told NBC Latino in Spanish that they fled the violence that plagued their native Colombia years ago adding he never thought a son of his would die at the hands of a gun in this country. Díaz Sr. said that despite this “I profoundly thank this country for opening its door to us and my son’s death does not change my respect for it.” Díaz Sr. said his son was a “wonderful person, full of life, intelligent, with many dreams and projects. He lived a happy life.”