A 34-year-old man whom police are calling a “serial killer” appeared in court Wednesday afternoon on charges related to three of the seven random shootings that he was suspected of committing.
Alexander Hernandez of Sylmar appeared for arraignment at San Fernando courthouse, but the hearing was postponed until Sept. 17, when the case was set to be transferred to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom. No cameras were allowed in the courtroom Tuesday.
Arrested after a standoff with SWAT officers Sunday, Hernandez has been identified as the lone suspect in a string of “random” shooting incidents that targeted individuals with no connection to each other, authorities said Tuesday.
Four people were killed in the shootings.
Gildardo Morales, 48, was shot to death in his truck on Aug. 21 in Pacoima.
Then, in a series of San Fernando Valley shootings within an hour early Sunday morning, three people were fatally shot: wheelchair-bound Mariana Franco, 23, was killed while sitting with her family in their SUV on the way to church; an unidentified 29-year-old man was fatally shot while collecting recyclables at a Sylmar recreation center; and Gloria Tobar, 59, was shot in her car outside a church in Pacoima.
The coroner’s office was not releasing the identities of those killed Sunday because of a police “security hold” on that information, but family members had provided two names to KTLA.
Hernandez has been charged with murder only in connection with Morales’ death. He has also been charged with three counts of animal cruelty for allegedly shooting at three dogs, two which were killed, at a Pacoima home on Saturday. And he faces two attempted murder charges for an Aug. 22 car-to-car shooting that targeted a West Hollywood couple who were uninjured.
He was additionally charged with one count of shooting at an occupied vehicle, two counts of discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, one count of possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition, the according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Investigators with the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday that they expected Hernandez to also be charged in connection with the three Sunday shootings and an Aug. 20 car-to-car shooting in the Atwater Village area that sent a woman to the hospital in critical condition.
Hernandez is eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
He was previously convicted of possession for sale of methamphetamine, possession of a controlled substance with a firearm and possession of a firearm by a felon, according to the DA’s office.