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Road-rage victim remembered, family says street shooting should never have happened

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 5:09 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Wednesday night, March 10, family members spoke publicly for the first time about a devastating road-rage incident that took the life of 27-year-old Rudy Vega.

“He wasn’t just another kid from the south side who got into trouble,” said Monique Coronado-Islava, Vega’s aunt. “He was a young man that was gunned down over some meaningless argument.”

Coronado-Islava remembers her nephew as a genuine, peaceful person with a somewhat shy personality. She says Vega was the kind of person who would give the shirt off his back for someone in need.

“He was the soul of the family; that one kind soul,” said Coronado-Islava. “If he hugged you, he meant that hug. If he said, ‘I love you,’ he meant it. His grandmother went through cancer and he would always make sure she had everything she needed. I am happy that we got to know what a truly good soul is.”

Looking out at Valencia Road near the I-19 ramp, Ray Jacques, Vega’s uncle, is numb.

“I take the freeway daily,” he said. “So, it hurts. He was like a brother to me. Something tragic like this is so painful, especially for our family which is small.”

In the early afternoon on March 4, Vega left his home for the last time. On his way to grab some food with two of his friends, he was shot during a road-rage incident less than a mile from where he lived with his mother and grandmother (who heard the gunfire).

“It was extreme,” said Coronado-Islava. “It was unnecessary. We have to pick up the pieces, we have to put our lives back together.”

According to the Interim Complaint, Vega was riding in the backseat of his friend’s vehicle when they almost collided with another vehicle driven by David Rivera. The two vehicles then drove side-by-side towards the I-19 ramp. Rivera told police Vega rolled down his window and pointed a weapon at him so he started shooting. However, Vega’s friends said that did not happen. Officers did not find a weapon in the victim’s vehicle.

“If one person felt threatened, he could have slammed on his brakes and let the other person proceed,” Coronado-Islava said.

Instead, Rivera allegedly fired several rounds. One of the bullets struck Vega, who was rushed to the hospital with a critical head injury. He died the next day.

“You have to know how to control fury if you have a gun in your hand,” said Coronado-Islava. “If you don’t know how to hold that fury, you shouldn’t have [a gun]. It’s not justified. He chose to pull out that gun, he chose to pull the trigger. And not just one time, multiple times.”

The family’s loss is amplified. Jacquez says they were preparing to celebrate Vega’s 28th birthday next month. Shortly after his death, the family also learned Vega would have been a father.

“We are not going to know what kind of a father he was going to be,” Coronado-Islava teared up. “We don’t know [any] of that, we were robbed of that. Rudy didn’t deserve this. Rudy didn’t deserve for his last story to be told is that someone killed him this way.”

Vega’s family welcome prayers and support during this difficult time. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with funeral arrangements. To donate, click HERE.

According to the Tucson Police Department, Rivera remained on scene and was initially charged with aggravated assault. He was released from jail, but the investigation is ongoing. Additional charges may be laid, in which case, Rivera will be taken back into custody.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.