SAN ANTONIO – Eight years seems like an eternity for a mother burdened by the weight of her teenaged son’s unsolved murder.
Norma Rodriguez’s son, Paul De Leon, 17, was shot to death Dec. 19, 2009, as he slept in the passenger seat of a vehicle at a traffic light on San Antonio’s Southeast Side.
Rodriguez said if she could, she’d ask whoever is responsible, “We’ve waited eight years now to know why did you do this? Why did you shoot at the car? Why did you kill an innocent kid? How can you live with yourself?”
She said he was in the car driven by his brother, who had dropped off a friend, when a white or tan Nissan Frontier truck pulled up at the intersection of Fair and New Braunfels avenues.
His mother said her oldest son lowered the window because it seemed the man wanted directions.
Moments later, Rodriguez said there was a single gunshot blast, killing her son.
She said “Paulie” had no enemies.
“He was a typical 17-year-old,” Rodriguez said. “He loved ice cream, Hot Pockets, pizza and basketball.”
She said he also drank a gallon of milk every day, sometimes in a large insulated cup filled with cereal.
Rodriguez said her son dreamed of becoming a physical therapist.
A senior at Highlands High School when he was killed, Rodriguez said she attended the school’s graduation that year.
She said since then, many of his friends have attended the birthday parties she holds at his gravesite to celebrate his life.
Hernandez said they even raised money that went toward buying his tombstone, and they dedicated two pages to him in the school’s yearbook.
She said after his death, she was told how he came to the defense of a mentally challenged student who was being harassed.
“I always told him, if anyone ever needs your help, do it safely, but do it,” Rodriguez said.
She cherishes the memory of the last time she saw him alive, standing on their front porch as he was to leave.
“I looked out and I said, ‘I love you,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘I love you, too, mom.’”
She said she also credits Parents of Murdered Children and Other Survivors of Homicide Victims for helping her through her most difficult times in dealing with her son’s death.
“It hurts your heart when your babies are sick or fall down,” Rodriguez said. “You want to pick them up. I can’t do that for him.”
Officer Marc Ortega, Crime Stoppers coordinator, said, “Crime Stoppers pays rewards in cash, but only for anonymous, crime-solving trips submitted directly to Crime Stoppers, and that concern information not previously provided to, or known by law enforcement. Tipsters who identify themselves are not eligible for rewards.”
If you recognize the suspect from this 2009 sketch, or know anything about De Leon’s murder, Rodriguez said she urges people to call Crime Stoppers at 210-224-STOP.
Crime Stoppers may pay a reward up to $5,000 for information leading to an arrest.