Elderly Woman Struck and Killed in Alleged Hit-and-Run by Brooklyn Pastor

By Dan RivoliFred Dreier and Wil Cruz  on July 23, 2012 10:11am  | Updated on July 23, 2012 4:04pm

An 88-year-old woman was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver at Livonia and Stone avenues on July 22, 2012.
An 88-year-old woman was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver at Livonia and Stone avenues on July 22, 2012.
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DNAinfo/Fred Dreier

BROOKLYN — An 88-year-old woman beloved by her neighbors was struck and killed in Brownsville Sunday by a Brooklyn pastor with a suspended license who allegedly fled the scene, police said.

Isabel Rodriguez, who neighbors said used a cane to get around, was walking east on Livonia Avenue, near Stone Avenue, about 8:45 p.m. when a dark-colored BMW crashed into her, police said.

The driver of the BMW, Pastor Wayne Stokeling, 50, allegedly drove off without checking on Rodriguez, police said.

Stokeling is the pastor of St. John Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, people familiar with the church confirmed.

Rodriguez was rushed to Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, but was pronounced dead on arrival, police said.

Mable Spence, 49, a neighbor of hers in the Samuel J. Tilden Houses, said Rodriguez was inseparable from her sister whom she lived with on the 16th floor.

Spence said the two elderly women had a penchant for kissing their friends and neighbors on the cheeks.

"We called them the kissing sisters," Spence said. "She kissed everyone. She [didn't] care who."

Rosa Torres, 55, who lived next door to Rodriguez for 20 years, recalled her neighbor as spry and always out and about. She used to give Torres' grandchildren cookies.

"She was a nice old church lady," Torres said. "She was a good lady."

Working with a witness' description of the vehicle, cops found the BMW about a block away at Riverdale Avenue, near Watkins Street, with damage consistent with the alleged hit-and-run, cops said.

Stokeling was arrested a short time later.

Stokeling — whom cops called a "scofflaw" with "extensive" violations on his driving record — was charged with leaving an accident resulting in death and being an aggravated unlicensed operator of the vehicle, police said.

Sources said Stokeling has prior arrests for grand larceny, forgery, criminal possession of a forged instrument and bail jumping.

He was awaiting arraignment at Brooklyn Criminal Court, officials said.

"He's not a nice person. He was rude to me," Reynaldo Negron, 49, said of the Stokeling.

Negron, a super of 12 buildings near the church, claimed he once signed for packages delivered to the church. Instead of giving thanks, Stokeling allegedly said, "Don't do me any favors," Negron recounted.

Negron recalled the pastor driving flashy cars, claiming he had two BMWs: a sedan and SUV.

But another neighbor, who declined to give her name, said, "He's a God fearing man. Y'all must be mistaken."

 

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