Legendary actor Robert De Niro said his grandson Leandro De Niro Rodriguez's fatal overdose "shouldn't have happened" while discussing it in an exclusive interview with PEOPLE on Wednesday (February 7).
"I just then started thinking about all the things I could have, should have done maybe with him,” De Niro said. “I don't know if that would've made a difference. And so that's always playing through my mind."
Rodriguez, 19, reportedly had fentanyl, bromazolam, alprazolam, 7-aminoclonazepam, ketamine and cocaine in his system at the time of his death, which was officially ruled as an accidental overdose, TMZ reported in August.
Sofia Haley Marks, 20, an alleged drug dealer reportedly known as the 'Percocet Princess,' was federally charged with distribution of narcotics, police sources told the New York Post on July 13. Marks was reportedly arrested during what was described as an undercover sting operation conducted by the New York Police Department, Drug Enforcement Administration and Homeland Security, the sources confirmed.
Rodriguez's mother, Drena De Niro, had previously written that her son was suspected of having died from fentanyl-laced pills.
"Someone sold him fentanyl-laced pills that they knew were laced yet still sold them to him," she wrote in response to a commenter who asked about her son's cause of death.
“So for all these people still f***ing around selling and buying this s–t, my son is gone forever,” she added.
Drena paid tribute to her late son in a post shared on Instagram.
"I can barely type through my tears but all the love , the messages , calls , texts ,emails, the friends and family that held me up these last 24 hrs I’ve not been able to respond yet but we’re grateful for the all your love and condolences," she wrote. "None of this is right or fair and my heart hurts in a way I never knew possible while still breathing and barely functioning . Leo my darling I love you today like the first day I held you in my arms. The same man that picked us up from the hospital when you were born drove us to the funeral home where I touched and held you for the last time . You were kindness acceptance and love and I can’t believe any of this is real YOU made everything bearable and every burden lighter. You didn’t deserve to die like this but I can only believe that God needed a strong powerful angel in their army . I’m holding you every second of every moment I’m my heart and memories until I’m with you again . My heart is broken forever . Me daddy and your family love you , I love I love you with every beat of my crying heart 💔💔💔😭🕊️🕊️"
Drena shared Leandro with artist Carlos Mare, who also shared a post following news of his son's death on July 3.
"It is with immeasurable shock and sadness that we say goodbye to our beloved son Leo," Mare wrote in an Instagram post thanking his followers for their support. "We thank you for the outpouring of love and support and ask that we are given privacy at this time to process this inconsolable grief."
Rodriguez was found dead sitting in a chair inside a New York City apartment where he was housesitting during a welfare check and his death is reportedly being investigating as an overdose, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to TMZ. Both drugs and drug paraphernalia were located near his body when officers arrived at the scene.
A rep for Robert De Niro issued a statement to Page Six on Monday following news of his grandson's death.
“I’m deeply distressed by the passing of my beloved grandson Leo,” De Niro said. “We’re greatly appreciative of the condolences from everyone. We ask that we please be given privacy to grieve our loss of Leo.”
Rodriguez was credited for roles in A Star Is Born (2018), Cabaret Maxime (2018) and The Collection (2005), which also featured his mother.