Members of the Northeast San Fernando Valley community have expressed some relief that Sylmar resident, Alexander Hernandez, 34, has been charged with the series of killings that rocked their tight knit community.
“I didn’t understand why it was taking so long, but I guess they had to make sure they had everything to charge him,” said a Sylmar resident who asked not to be identified.
“On the day that it all happened, we wouldn’t let anyone go outside the house. We were so scared, we wanted to make sure he was the right guy. But it seems that after they arrested him it all stopped, so we were convinced he was the guy.”
Police charged Hernandez on Nov. 20 with three additional murders and five attempted murders on top of previous charges from the series of shootings that occurred over a five-day period this summer.
Hernandez was previously charged with the murder of a Pacoima man on Aug. 21. Gildardo Morales, 48, was shot on his way to work and was found slumped over with his truck still running in an intersection. Hernandez was also charged with the attempted murder of a woman on Aug. 20 in Atwater Village as she was driving to work.
The L.A. County District Attorney’s office has now charged Hernandez with the additional series of shootings that occurred on Aug. 24.
It was that early Sunday morning that residents, who lived in the city of San Fernando, Pacoima and Sylmar were horrified to learn that family members on their way to church were being shot at and killed.
Hernandez is now officially charged with with the Aug. 24 murders of Gloria Tovar, 59, and Michael Planells, 29. Tovar was gunned down while waiting in her car to pick up a fellow church member for early morning Mass at Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima. Planells was shot and killed in the parking lot of Sylmar Recreational Park, where nearby residents said he was picking up cans.
Hernandez is suspected to have continued a killing spree, targeting a family en route to Santa Rosa Church during that same early morning.
Mariana Franco, 23, was shot and killed while she was in the car with her parents and brother and sister. Her father was also shot but survived. The family had pulled their car over to avoid the erratic driver behind them. But when they pulled over, the suspect pulled alongside them and opened fire.
Hernandez is now charged with Franco’s murder, and the attempted murder of her four remaining family members.
The L.A. District Attorney’s office reports in all, Hernandez is charged with 22 counts:
*Four counts of capital murder;
*Seven counts of attempted murder;
*Three counts of cruelty to an animal;
*One count of possession of a firearm by a felon;
*One count of possession of ammunition by a felon;
*Two counts of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence.
Hernandez has four prior convictions that include possession for sale of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon. The District Attorney indicates that the special circumstances of multiple murders and shooting from an occupied vehicle make Hernandez eligible for the death penalty.
He is being held without bail.