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Police consider charges against SJ custodian

January 2, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
Police identified a man shot and killed in San Jose on Monday morning as well as a suspect arrested shortly after the shooting.

An armed man was reported at 9:26 a.m. in the 200 block of Lewis Road, just east of Monterey Highway in South San Jose.

When police arrived they found a man, later identified as 36-year-old Christopher Soriano of San Jose, suffering from at least one gunshot wound.

Soriano was treated by paramedics, but succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A suspect, identified as 26-year-old Luis Ricardo Hernandez of San Jose, was taken into custody at the scene.

Police said their investigation suggests that Hernandez shot Soriano during a fight. Police said that Hernandez suspected Soriano was burglarizing vehicles in the neighborhood and was attempting to detain him.

The shooting was San Jose's 46th homicide of 2012.

Was the shooting justified?

Police are considering charges against the man they say admits to pulling the trigger, but was it a justified killing? San Jose police detectives met with the District Attorney Wednesday to decide what to do. The incident happened at an apartment that has been a repeated target for crimes.

Tenants at the Summer Breeze apartments in San Jose recognized Hernandez as a friendly custodian who did handy work.

"Yeah, he is a good guy," said tenant Lupe Huete.

But now Hernandez is facing possible murder charges after telling police he shot and killed Soriano in the underground garage after trying to detain him.

"We know it was precipitated by what the shooter believed to be an auto burglary either occurring or about to occur," said San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

The garage is supposed to be secure, but residents have reported a string of car burglaries.

"Well we lived here for quite a bit, and we had my truck broken into three times," said tenant Ed Flores.

The gate was working Wednesday night, but residents say it's been broken and left open in the past leaving their cars vulnerable.

"In the past, we used to have really good security in this place. But lately it has disappeared," said Huete.

Police admit burglaries are on the rise in San Jose and their response times are lagging, but they do not recommend confronting a burglar, even though the law allows you to intervene.

"Unless it's absolutely necessary, we prefer if the community would just be a good witness and provide us with as much information as possible," said Dwyer.

"I can't say whether he's a hero or a criminal. I personally wouldn't use a gun myself. It's really not the right thing to do because it's a lose-lose situation," said another tenant.

The police say Hernandez did not have a permit to carry a concealed weapon, but it's unknown if he was permitted to carry a gun openly. Now it's up the district attorney to decide if this is a case of a justified killing or a murder.

Police do not believe the victim was armed.

The District Attorney will base his decision on the intent of the custodian when he shot the victim. Those details could come out if and when the District Attorney files charges. We could know as early as Thursday.

Bay City News contributed to this report.


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