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Accused Valley serial killer charged in another murder, more shootings

Sylmar man charged in August killing rampage faces new charges in earlier slaying, attempted murders

A suspected San Fernando Valley serial killer already charged with four fatal shootings over five days in August has been charged with three more attempted murders and the slaying of a motorist on the 210 Freeway.

Alexander Hernandez, 34, pleaded not guilty Thursday to the murder of the Sergio Sanchez on March 14 and seven other new charges, including an attempted murder that left a Chatsworth teenage boy paralyzed.

The new allegations, prosecutors allege, show Hernandez's killings and shootings began long before his allegedly deadly attacks with a shotgun in August.

Hernandez is already charged with the deaths of Mariana Franco, 23, Michael Planells, 29, Gildardo Morales, 48, and Gloria Tovar, 59. In all of the shootings, the suspect was described as a lone gunman firing a shotgun from a gold- or tan-colored sport-utility vehicle.

A similar vehicle was seen at the scene of Sanchez's shooting, police said. Sanchez was driving home from work on the 210 Freeway when he was fatally shot about 1 a.m. near the Roxford Street offramp. He died at a hospital about half an hour later.

LAPD Lt. Paul Vernon said the shooting occurred as Sanchez drove west. Detectives estimate that somewhere near Hubbard Street, the gunman in a passing vehicle fired into Sanchez's black Mitsubishi Eclipse, he said.

With Sanchez mortally wounded, his car came to a stop on the offramp, where passersby found him slumped over the steering wheel and flagged down a passing sheriff’s deputy.

The LAPD's elite Robbery Homicide Division has spent months re-creating Hernandez's movements. In these early shootings, authorities allege Hernandez used a handgun.

According to Deputy Dist. Atty. Michele Hamisee, the first of three attempted murders occurred April 27 when a man was shot in his car parked outside his father's Pacoima apartment.

The second shooting unfolded when the Chatsworth teen was shot after driving his girlfriend home from their high school prom about about 4 a.m. May 14. One of the bullets struck his spine, causing paralysis. The third attempted murder occurred when a male victim was shot in the arm by a driver on the 210 Freeway about 6 a.m. on June 15.

Hernandez now faces 30 counts, including five charges of capital murder, 10 attempted murders and seven counts of shooting into occupied vehicles.

His alleged final shooting rampage began Aug. 20, when a 42-year-old driver was wounded by gunfire as she exited the 5 Freeway in Atwater Village.

The next day, authorities say Gilardo Morales was found shot to death in his truck at a Pacoima intersection.

Over the next few days, random shootings were reported throughout the area. A couple driving in West Hollywood were followed Aug. 22 by a tan or gold SUV, which pulled alongside them and opened fire.

The couple was not struck, but a sheriff’s official said the couple's Toyota was damaged by three shotgun blasts.

The following day, a gunman shot three dogs in Pacoima. The owners told LAPD investigators they had seen the gunman before. His tan SUV had broken down in front of their house the week before.

Then on Aug. 24 three people were shot to death within an hour of each other. 

Hernandez is accused of gunning down Gloria Tovar as she waited to pick up a friend from church. Michael Planells was killed as he searched for cans at the Sylmar Recreation Center.

Mariana Franco was fatally shot while driving to morning Mass with her family.

For more Southern California crime news, follow @lacrimes.

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