A man named as a suspect in random San Fernando Valley shootings Sunday that took the lives of three people was charged with murder in an earlier attack in Pacoima, the L.A. County District Attorney's office announced this afternoon.
The revelation confirms that authorities believe 34-year-old suspect Alexander Hernandez could be responsible for the Sunday killings as well as for Thursday's fatal attack on a pickup truck driver and for the non-injury shooting of a couple in West Hollywood Friday night.
In fact, prosecutors also charged Hernandez with …
… two counts of attempted murder for his alleged actions in the West Hollywood case.
The murder count for the death of 48-year-old Gildardo Morales, who was driving his pickup to work when he was attacked Thursday, is a capital charge and includes the “special circumstance of shooting at an occupied vehicle,” the D.A.'s office said in a statement.
That so-called “drive-by” shooting allegation means he could be eligible for the death penalty if prosecutors pursue that avenue and the case has legs.
Prosecutors state that Hernandez was also hit with …
… one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle and three counts of animal cruelty. He also is charged with two counts of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, one count of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition.
He was arrested by the Los Angeles Police Department after an hour-long standoff at a Sylmar residence Sunday night. Police initially booked him for allegedly shooting two dogs, who died.
The D.A.'s office alleges that Hernandez, who has four prior convictions for possessing meth for sale, drug possession with a firearm, and possession of a firearm by a felon, embarked upon “a series of random shootings” starting Thursday.
Los Angeles police were also investigating whether he might be connected to a non-injury car-to-car shooting Wednesday on or near the 5 freeway in Atwater Village.
On Sunday morning a family of five was targeted by a gunman in the city of San Fernando, and
the mother a 23-year-old woman was killed. They were on their way to church.
Another woman headed to church was fatally shot, as well as a man reportedly picking up recyclables in the street. All three murders happened in the Valley.
Hernandez was scheduled to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow. Prosecutors say they'll ask the judge to keep him behind bars without bail.
[Update at 5:38 p.m.]: LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese told reporters at a press conference today that investigators believe Hernandez is responsible for four murders that were part of seven distinct attacks that also included opening fire on three dogs, two of which died.
He said that when Hernandez was taken into custody Sunday night that police found what they believe to be the weapon used in all the attacks—a pistol-grip shotgun.
Albanese ran down the incidents, which allegedly included the following:
-The 6 a.m., Aug. 20 injury shooting of a female motorist who was exiting the northbound 5 freeway at Colorado Boulevard.
-The Aug. 21 murder of pickup truck driver Morales, who was stopped at a stoplight.
-The Aug. 22 shooting of a pickup truck in West Hollywood in which a husband and wife inside were not injured.
-The 11:20 a.m., Aug. 23 shooting of three dogs in the 13600 block of Eldridge Avenue in the Valley. Two of the dogs were killed.
-The three San Fernando Valley murders on Sunday morning, which took the lives of a 23-year-old woman en route to church with her family, a 29-year-old man and a 59-year-old woman who was in a stopped vehicle.
In almost all the cases surviving witnesses described a lone gunman in an SUV, the deputy chief said.
Albanese said that the department immediately “mobilized” 70 detectives and started working with sheriff's investigators and San Fernando police to find a suspect, whom he says was identified by that afternoon.
He said that “we anticipate charges will [also] be filed on the three homicides that occurred in the San Fernando Valley on Sunday.”
Possible motive was still a mystery.