Valley shootings: Los Angeles-area man is serial killer, authorities say

Los Angeles police believe Alexander Hernandez, 34, is the one and only suspect in three different shootings that left three people dead in the San Fernando Valley Sunday. Hernandez was detained Sunday night on suspicion of animal cruelty in the case of Saturday dog shootings.
Los Angeles police believe Alexander Hernandez, 34, is the one and only suspect in three different shootings that left three people dead in the San Fernando Valley Sunday. Hernandez was detained Sunday night on suspicion of animal cruelty in the case of Saturday dog shootings. Screencap from NBC LA

Update 6:14 p.m. Authorities in Los Angeles say a man in custody is a serial killer who shot seven people, leaving four dead over five days.

Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said at a news conference Tuesday that the three other victims were critically injured and two dogs were also shot and killed before the arrest of 34-year-old Alexander Hernandez of Sylmar.

Albanese says the shootings began early last Wednesday when a woman was shot and wounded by a lone man in an SUV as she exited a freeway.

Shooting incidents followed for four straight days leading to the killings of three people on Sunday.

Hernandez has only been charged in one of the killings but Los Angeles County sheriff's Chief of Detectives Bill McSweeney says he is a serial killer.

Hernandez has not entered a plea, and prosecutors did not know if he has retained an attorney.

AP

Previously: Suspect charged with murder in another killing, motive unclear

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office charged suspect Alexander Hernandez with murder Tuesday for a killing last week, according to a press release from the DA's Office. He is also suspected in a series of shootings in the San Fernando Valley on Sunday.

Hernandez, 34, was charged with fatally shooting a man in Pacoima, the attempted murder of a West Hollywood couple and shooting and killing two dogs in a series of shootings that began Thursday, according to a DA's Office press release. He has not been charged in the Sunday shootings.

Hernandez allegedly shot and killed Gildardo Morales in Pacoima on Thursday, while Morales was driving his pickup truck to work, according to the DA's Office press release. Hernandez allegedly shot at a married couple in West Hollywood on Friday, but they weren't injured, according to the DA's Office. Hernandez may face the death penalty.

L.A. police arrested Hernandez late Sunday after San Fernando Valley shootings that killed two women and a man earlier that day, but authorities are still looking for a motive.

“We’re still kind of scratching our heads as to what would cause a person to get up on a Sunday morning and go out and kill three — apparently, completely separate, completely unrelated people — I have no idea,” Cmdr. Andrew Smith, spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, told KPCC.

Hernandez was already being held on $1 million bail for suspicion of animal cruelty for shooting two dogs Saturday, AP reported.

“Our detectives are calling him a suspect in all three of these cases and our detectives believe he acted alone in these cases,” Smith said.

When the homicides occurred on Sunday morning, detectives on the animal cruelty task force recognized similarities in the vehicle and suspect descriptions from the case of the dog killings and turned the information over to the LAPD Robbery-Homicide Division. 

"They were able to quickly determine that Mr. Hernandez was the individual that we believe is responsible," said Smith.

Smith said detectives recovered a weapon when Hernandez was taken into custody outside of his house Sunday night. LAPD won’t say what type of weapon they recovered but they believe that weapon was involved in the three other homicides. 

Hernandez has prior convictions involving gun and drug charges, according to the DA's Office.]

Erika Aguilar/KPCC with AP

This story has been updated.

With contributions by Jessica Hamlin and Mike Roe

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