Family members of Charlotte’s first homicide victim of 2017 made a public plea Tuesday for help in finding Natanael Jose Rodriguez’s killer.
“There is not a day that goes by that we don't feel the absence of him,” said Damaris Valdez, his aunt, appearing at a news conference at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Police were called to Rodriguez’s apartment in the 6500 block of Monroe Road in the early morning hours of Jan. 2, where they found him suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. The 22-year-old was taken to Carolinas Medical Center, where he died from his injuries.
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Valdez said Rodriguez was expected to be with the family for a birthday party the night of his death. She said her nephew felt it was important to spend time with his relatives. She remembered Rodriguez to be a friendly person who opened his life to many people, though it would sometimes invite the wrong type of people into his life.
CMPD and the family said they believe the suspect and Rodriguez knew each other. There wasn’t a sign of a break-in at his apartment, police said.
The family hopes an arrest will lead to closure, though Valdez said the loss is something family members will live with for the rest of their lives.
“The pain cannot be explained,” she said. “It’s something that runs deep in our blood. To lose him in such a manner is hard.”
Police are offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest in the case.
LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS