CLEVELAND — Even with the arrests and indictments of two people in connection with the brazen, midday shooting that left her and two of her children wounded, the victim said the physical and, particularly, the emotional wounds of that day continue to linger.
Brooke Rodgers, a mother of three, still has a bullet lodged in her left leg. Her middle child has a large scar on her arm and her oldest has a scar above the eye. What happened on February 8, 2021, follows them like a shadow.
“It may be a normal person driving past but it’s always in the back of my head, “oh they’re trying to shoot me,” Rodgers said. “It’s really traumatizing.”
Her normal routine remains forever altered and, in many respects, she has no routine. She takes different routes home; she shops at different stores; she continually looks over her shoulder. Living each and every day carefree shattered once the first bullet tore through her car that February day as she waited at a red light near Pearl Road at the Valley Parkway in Strongsville.
Rodgers, her three children, and a family member were on their way to a local water park.
“All of the sudden, we heard the gunshots. I didn’t know what it was,” Rodgers said. “I thought something hit the car. My daughter looked at me and she had blood pouring from her head. I thought she was dead.”
The family fled to a nearby business as Strongsville police and paramedics rushed to the scene. It wasn’t until at this point that Rodgers realized that she had been shot.
“It was a case of mistaken identity and they shot my car and they didn’t care about who was in it,” Rodger said.
Strongsville police later arrested Devonte Carter, 30, who currently faces numerous felonies, including six counts of felonious assault, having weapons under disability as well as three other gun-related charges. Carter also faces a bribery charge, accused of trying to buy Rodgers’ silence.
Jessica Santiago, 34, was also indicted for obstruction of justice. She was arraigned on Wednesday morning and has since posted bond.
Rodgers said the bullet wound in her leg has largely healed but she frequently endures excruciating pain. She also cannot walk long distances, making her responsibilities as a mother even more challenging.
“It hurts a lot. I get tired but I’m not thinking about me; I’m thinking about my kids. Sometimes [my daughter] will point to her arm and say, ‘hurt, hurt,’” Rodger said. “You can’t start slacking as a mom… but I haven’t really had any time to heal.”
Even though she is still trying to cope and process what happened that day, Rodgers is forced to keep moving forward, she said. She’s determined not for herself but, rather, her children.
“If you’re not going to do it, who else is going to do it? I have family and I have support but I brought [my kids] into this world,” Rodgers said. “I have to nurture them, I have to take care of them.”