SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. – Several dozen residents of Pembroke Pines and Southwest Ranches held a candlelight vigil at Southwest Ranches Town Hall Thursday night to remember Maritza Medina.
They also wanted to express their belief that Medina's death could have been prevented had the gates between the two towns not been erected.
"We don't want anyone to suffer the tragedy that the Medinas have suffered and are suffering now, so we are asking for change," said family friend Juan Gallo.
Gallo, as well as Medina's husband, believe the gates prevented the 48-year-old mother of two from taking her normal route home. Instead, they said the gates at SW 199th, SW 202nd, and SW 205th Avenues forced Medina to use U.S. 27 where she was struck and killed by a criminal on the run from police last week.
But as neighbors flooded Southwest Ranches Town Hall after the vigil, a couple of people said publicly that no change to the gates is necessary.
"Gates don't kill people. People kill people. They're so angry with the gates, why aren't they angry with this man that did this to their mother and wife and friend?" said Dee Schroeder.
"It could have been me. It could have been anybody else at that light at that particular time," said Southwest Ranches Mayor Jeff Nelson.
While Nelson did not say there would be immediate plans to look into taking the gates down, he also said he was listening to concerns on both sides.
"I don't blame anybody," said Diego Medina. "I cannot blame anybody. I wish I could. I wish I could channel my anger into one point or one man, one person, one decision. I don't know why God did this. I have no clue. I wish I did. Maybe one day I'll figure it out."