The mother of homicide victim Jorge "Loco" Rosa Jr. said she is grateful this Thanksgiving even as she struggles to cope with the aftermath of her son's violent death.
Bridgette Feliciano said the family was able to finalize funeral arrangements for the 25-year-old New London man this week after receiving nearly $8,000 in donations.
Rosa, who had worked as a roofer and had a 6-year-old daughter, died of multiple gunshot wounds after being shot Nov. 12 in his third-floor apartment at 252 Montauk Ave. His family and friends held two fundraisers last week and sold T-shirts and key chains to help pay funeral expenses. Donors also sent money through the mail.
"It's beautiful how people are helping," the mother said. "I never expected it."
Feliciano said she is thankful, also, that her son's girlfriend was spared when, police say, two men forced their way into Rosa's apartment and shot him in his bed. Feliciano said in the days after the shooting, she spoke to the woman and went to the crime scene with police because she wanted to understand her son's suffering.
"She (the girlfriend) was there," Feliciano said. "She saw everything happen in front of her face. She also had the gun in her face, but I'm grateful he (the shooter) did not kill her."
The girlfriend, who has not yet been identified, had been with Rosa for a few months and had dated one of the accused killers, 20-year-old Evan J. Holmes, in the past, according to Feliciano.
Holmes was arrested at an Old Saybrook motel within hours of the shooting, but a second man, 18-year-old Davion Smith, remains at large.
"I wish the second guy would turn himself in and do the right thing," Feliciano said. "I believe he's out here, and somebody is hiding him."
Sources close to the investigation said Smith's family is speaking with a lawyer and attempting to negotiate Smith's surrender to authorities. Police would only say that they are continuing their investigation.
"I just want to know why they did it," Feliciano said. "What did my son do so bad for that to happen? And the way they killed him, it has to be something big. It better not be for nothing stupid."
She wants to read more about the crime when the autopsy report and police reports become available, she said. Details of the case remain under seal while the investigation continues.
Feliciano said she and her sons dressed Rosa for burial on Tuesday. It was something she felt she had to do, she said.
"My boys helped," she said. "We're all so proud of each other. We made it through. We stayed strong."
Calling hours will be from 2 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Byles Memorial Funeral Home at 99 Huntington St. in New London. A graveside service will be held at noon Monday at St. Mary Cemetery.
The family will be gathering for Thanksgiving today and has threatened to drag Feliciano to the meal in her pajamas, but she said she may just spend the day in bed. She said she understands that life must go on and doesn't want to ruin the day for her grandchildren.
Feliciano said the family still needs to raise about $3,000 to cover Rosa's funeral expenses and that donations can be mailed to her at 1591 Norwich-New London Turnpike, Uncasville, CT 06382.