San Fernando Valley suspect believed to be serial killer

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. -- Police are now calling Alexander Hernandez a serial killer and the lone suspect in the three San Fernando Valley murders over the weekend. The 34-year-old Sylmar man has been linked to at least seven shootings, and police are looking into the possibility of more.

"Nothing makes a homicide investigator's heart beat faster than realizing he has a serial killer. That's what he was," Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Chief Bill McSweeney said.

The alleged crime spree began last week with the shooting of a female driver as she exited the 5 Freeway in Atwater Village on Aug. 20. The next morning, 48-year-old Gildardo Morales was gunned down in his pickup truck in Pacoima while sitting at a red light on his way to work. On Friday, Hernandez allegedly opened fire on a couple in West Hollywood, but the husband and wife were not injured.

On Saturday, Hernandez is alleged to have shot three dogs, killing two of them, while driving by a house in Pacoima.

Early Sunday morning, Jose and Beatriz Franco and their three kids were on their way to church when police say Hernandez pulled up and opened fire in San Fernando. Mariana Franco, a 23-year-old who had special needs, was killed. Her parents are still hospitalized.

Forty minutes later, police say Hernandez murdered a man in a Sylmar park, and about 20 minutes later, he allegedly shot and killed Gloria Tovar as she sat in her car waiting to take a friend to church.

"This is an individual that was out randomly shooting people. That's what we believe happened here, as crazy as that sounds," said LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese. "In terms of motive, I don't know what his motive may have been."

Hernandez was taken into custody Sunday night after a standoff in Sylmar and booked for animal cruelty, but up until Tuesday, police were calling him a "person of interest" in the random killings. Police found a pistol-grip shotgun in his possession when he was taken into custody, LAPD Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese said.

According to the L.A. County District Attorney's Office, Hernandez is facing a string of charges, including one count of capital murder for Morales' shooting death, one count of murder with the special circumstance of shooting at an occupied vehicle, two counts of attempted murder, 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 has not yet been charged for Sunday's triple murder.

Hernandez is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. at the San Fernando Courthouse. Prosecutors will ask that he be held without bail.

Authorities say Hernandez has several prior convictions, including sale of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm by a felon.

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