The family of the man accused in the San Jose vigilante case says he was only trying to do the right thing. Police say he shot and killed a suspected burglar on New Year’s Eve.
Luis Ricardo Hernandez stood before the judge Friday. Shackled and in a red jail suit, Hernandez officially heard the charge against him -- murder. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted.
“I’m really just blown away about the whole scenario, things that have taken place,” Mike Rodriguez said, a pastor at Hernandez’s old church. “I was a youth pastor and he was one of the people that was helping me with the youth that I was working with. He did a wonderful job."
Court records allege Hernandez shot and killed the man he suspected was a serial burglar, Chris Soriano. The documents show Hernandez was frustrated police were doing nothing about the rash of burglaries at the Summer Breeze Apartments.
Police also say Hernandez tried to stop Soriano when he spotted him at the complex and detain him until police arrived. That’s when a gun went off.
“I believe he did something. He just did it the wrong way,” Albert Martinez said, grandfather of Hernandez’s son. “I don’t see it as vigilante. I see it as trying to help those that can’t help themselves."
Police also say Hernandez remorsefully admitted to the shooting, saying he only wanted to make a citizen's arrest.
“The key to the case is going to be selecting the jury,” former prosecutor Steven Clark said. He believes the jury might go for a voluntary manslaughter conviction, not murder. “A lot of jurors are not going to be sympathetic with the victim here. They may say, you rip off people at your own risk. If you want to be a thief and a burglar, you're going to run the risk that someone is going to take deadly force to stop you from doing that."
As his family eagerly awaits the outcome, Hernandez sits in a jail cell with no bail.
Hernandez’s family says they, too, partially blame the police cutbacks for the shooting. They say if police were proactive about the burglaries, the shooting may never have happened.