See our latest: Man Suspected in Random Valley Shootings Charged With Murder
L.A. County Sheriff's Department officials said overnight that they were investigating the possibility that a Friday night shooting in West Hollywood could be related to the rash of five other random attacks, including four murders, that have rocked Los Angeles in recent days.
The Los Angeles Police Department announced yesterday that a "person of interest" in some of the shootings had been jailed after a one-hour standoff Sunday night with its SWAT team in Sylmar. The man was identified as 34-year-old Alexander Hernandez. He was being held in lieu of $1 million after he allegedly shot and killed two dogs on Saturday, police said.
Sheriff's detectives now want to know if the Valley shootings ...
... are related to the West Hollywood attack (more on that below).
Furthermore, the LAPD previously stated that it was looking at two other shootings that could be connected to the Valley attacks. That brings the number of potential victims that could be related to the case to 11, including three who are dead and four who might have been targeted but were not hit by gunfire.
The string of attacks could include a 6 a.m. car-to-car injury shooting of a female motorist Wednesday on or near the 5 freeway in Atwater Village, and a murder Thursday in Pacoima, where a man was found with gunshot wounds inside a stopped-but-running pickup truck.
Police told us the Atwater Village attack involved an SUV and a shooter with a shotgun, which also was allegedly the case with the Valley attacks.
Sunday's violence in the Valley had a loose theme, too: Most of the victims were headed to church.
Sheriff's officials say the first attack was reported at 5:58 a.m. in the 1400 block of Celis Street in the city of San Fernando.
A family en route to church "noticed a vehicle driving erratically" behind it, deputies say. The fearful driver pulled over, only to have someone in that allegedly erratic vehicle open fire, they said.
Three of five family members, including a 46-year-old-man, his 43-year-old wife and their 23-year-old daughter, were struck by gunfire, authorities said.
The wife The 23-year-old died at the scene, police said.
Two others, a 14-year-old boy and a girl, were not hit, sheriff's officials said.
At 6:35 a.m., police responding to a report of gunfire found a man of about 30 years of age fatally shot in 13000 block of Borden Avenue, at the Sylmar Recreational Center, according to LAPD. The victim might have been collecting recyclables, police said.
At 6:45 a.m. police discovered a woman in the 1200 block of Fillmore Street. She had been fatally shot in the head, cops said. NBC Los Angles reported that she was in a stopped car, waiting to pick up a friend so they could head to church.
A mattress nearby had been freshly painted with satanic symbols or language, the station said.
The West Hollywood attack was reported at 11 p.m. Friday at Gardner Street and Santa Monica Boulevard, Sheriff's officials said.
The two victims, West Hollywood residents, were in a pickup headed south on Highland Avenue near the Hollywood Bowl when they noticed a man in a gold or tan SUV looking at them, deputies said.
According to a Sheriff's statement:
As the victims [then] drove eastbound on Santa Monica Boulevard, they lost sight of the suspect’s SUV. As the victims continued to drive, they noticed the suspect’s SUV directly behind them, driving with the headlights off. The victims turned onto Gardner Street from Santa Monica Boulevard, when the suspect’s SUV drove next to the victim’s vehicle passenger side and fired three rounds from a shotgun. The victims were not injured from the gunfire nor from the shattered glass from the blown out rear window.
The victim’s vehicle sustained significant damage by gunfire which resulted in a blown out rear window and damage to the bed of the truck.
Now Sheriff's detectives, who are in charge of the city of San Fernando investigation, are actively looking for links between the West Hollywood attack and the Valley murders.
The Valley attacks also were linked to a gold or tan SUV, Los Angeles police said previously.
The 5-foot, 10-inch Hernandez was booked into jail at 9:15 p.m. Sunday night, according to Sheriff's inmate information. A man with a similar name and birthdate previously spent a night in jail after a June 15 arrest for unknown reasons, according to the inmate data. Bail in the June case had been set at $30,000.
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Hernandez was detained at a residence near Polk Street and Kismet Avenue in Sylmar Sunday night. A tipster pointed us to a Google Maps image of a residence in that area that has a gold-colored, '90s-era Chevrolet Tahoe (or the GMC version of the same vehicle, a Yukon) with oversize chrome rims parked in a driveway.
Anyone with information about the West Hollywood shooting was asked to call deputies at 310-855-8850.
[Update at 1:04 p.m.]: LAPD Officer Drake Madison says that Hernandez is officially a suspect in the Sunday attacks in the city of L.A. It was previously reported that police believe there is no second shooter.