- Click here for an updated story: New Charges After Man Plows Into Rockland Family, Killing Pregnant Mom
A pregnant mother of six was killed by an allegedly irate man after he plowed his car into the family of eight twice outside a Rockland 7-Eleven immediately after the father asked the man not to smoke in front of the family's children.
The incident took place around 1:50 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, when Jason Mendez, 35, of Washingtonville in Orange County, drove his vehicle into the family standing in front of the store located on North Central Highway in Garnerville, said the Haverstraw Police Department.
Minutes before the incident, Mendez and the father of the family had the verbal altercation over smoking. Mendez then proceeded to enter his vehicle, which was parked in the 7-Eleven parking lot, and drive it into the eight family members, police and witnessed said.
He then reversed the vehicle and drove forward again, striking the family members for a second time, killing the 32-year-old mother, Haverstraw Police said.
The eight family members consisted of the 35-year-old father, the mother and six children. The eight members of the family were all transported to a local hospital. The father and three children were transported to a Westchester Medical Facility for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The remaining children were being treated at the local hospital for their injuries, police said.
Police have not released the mother's name, but a GoFundMe page identified her as Melissa Castillo DeLoatch.
Her cousin, Adrienne Rodriguez, who started the GoFundMe page said: "Melissa did what any mother would have done and tried to protect her children. She was a true hero. Melissa was full of love, smiles, life and so much more. All of us are going to miss you beyond words can explain."
When police arrived on the scene, Mendez was brandishing a knife and failed to comply with the responding officers' verbal commands to drop the knife. He was subsequently tased, subdued, and taken into custody without further incident, Haverstraw police said.
Mendez has been charged with murder in the second-degree and seven counts of attempted murder in the second-degree.
He pleaded not guilty during a hearing Wednesday night. A bail or bond amount was not revealed.
The investigation is still ongoing and it is anticipated that several additional charges will be filed. The names of all involved parties are being withheld at this time due to the ongoing investigation, police said.
The Town of Haverstraw Police Department thanked the responding police agencies that assisted including the Stony Point Police Department, Rockland County Sheriff's Office and the New York State Police.
Additionally, the Town of Haverstraw Police Department would like to thank the Haverstraw Ambulance Corps, Rockland Mobile Care, and the various other EMS agencies and personnel who responded to assist in the care for the victims.
This continues to be a developing story. Check back to Daily Voice for updates.
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