Grieving family accepts slain son's med school diploma

May 16, 2011 10:21:04 PM PDT
For one family, Monday's graduation from the UCSF medical school is filled with as much pain as pride. They picked up the diploma for their son who was killed in a San Francisco nightclub, and police need help finding the person who did it.

The parents and sisters of Joe Hernandez tearfully accepted his diploma Monday. He would have been a doctor. Joe was the victim of a fight at a South of Market club in January in which he was beaten.

San Francisco police investigators have released surveillance video of the suspect. The video shows the man police are trying to find, seen at the Temple Club Bar before the attack. He is an Asian male with a sleeve tattoo on his right arm. They have already arrested 22-year-old Tracy Luong of San Jose on an assault charge. Allegedly she was attacking a bystander with her high heels.

Monday, the victim's family had to relive the pain of their loss. Graduation in the UCSF School of Medicine -- a day of happiness and tragedy for Joe's family. So instead, his family shared the moment together and alone.

"It's hard. It's going to be real hard," said mother Rita Hernandez. "He's supposed to be here today, so we're here for him."

His sister and many friends wore a button with Joe's picture as a tribute.

"Joe was unique in that he loved being with his family all the time," said sister Teresa Alexander. "So we very much miss him."

"He is the best son anybody could have, and he's so loving and compassionate," said Joe's mother.

The graduates are friends who gave the family a standing ovation as mom and dad walked to get the diploma.

"He worked very hard for this, so we're real proud of him," said Rita.

They donated Joe's organs to help save others' lives. He wanted to go into family medicine. Now, others will have that chance thanks to a memorial scholarship established in his honor.

While the police continue their investigation, the family simply tries to cope.

"It still doesn't make sense to me," said father Joseph Hernandez. "It's still very difficult."

The family hopes that if you know anything about the suspect or what happened that night in the nightclub, you will call the San Francisco Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444.

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