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Man who killed five in San Fernando Valley shooting spree sentenced to life in prison

A woman and a child.
Gloria Tovar was one of Alexander Hernandez’s victims.
(Courtesy of Tovar family)

A man convicted of killing five people in a random shooting spree in the San Fernando Valley in 2014 was sentenced this week to life in prison without the possibility of parole, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said.

Alexander Hernandez, 42, was found guilty in May of five counts of murder with special circumstances, 11 counts of attempted murder and several other charges including shooting at an occupied vehicle, animal cruelty and possession of a firearm by a felon.

“Alexander Hernandez’s killing spree affected many families and traumatized the community,” said Dist. Atty. George Gascón. “With this sentence he will be held accountable for the pain he caused and will never threaten anyone in the community again.”

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The sentence brings to a close nearly 10 years of proceedings.

The spree lasted from March to August 2014 and killed Sergio Sanchez, 35; Gilardo Morales, 48; Mariana Franco, 23; Michael Planells, 29; and Gloria Tovar, 59. Several other people were injured.

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Sanchez, the first victim, was killed as he was driving on the 210 Freeway in Sylmar. His body was found in his vehicle on a freeway offramp.

Hernandez then carried out a series of shootings that injured several people, including a 19-year-old victim who had been dropping off his girlfriend at home after prom. The victim was left partially paralyzed.

In August of that year, Hernandez committed seven shootings in five days, killing Morales, Franco, Planells, Tovar and several dogs.

Planells was killed in a Sylmar park while the other victims were killed in their vehicles as they either drove or parked, the district attorney’s office said. About a dozen other people were shot at but survived.

At the time, Los Angeles police referred to the suspect as a serial killer.

Hernandez was arrested in August 2014, but was not convicted for nearly eight years because of pandemic delays and concerns about his mental competency.

Prosecutors had originally sought the death penalty, but Gascón barred prosecutors from seeking capital punishment after he was elected in 2020.


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