Clovis News

Deliveryman's killing called a random act of violence

The man who was gunned down as he delivered beer in central Fresno early Monday was shot in the back, a victim of random violence, Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Tuesday.

Dyer said there is no indication that Richard Hernandez, 27, of Selma knew his assailants -- and no apparent motive for the killing.

"An innocent person [who] ... was making a delivery as part of his job was gunned down in cold blood," Dyer said. He said the department hasn't seen a random killing such as this in four or five years, adding "those are very, very rare."

Hernandez, who worked for Valley Wide Beverage Co., was married and had two children.

The shooting suspects were identified Tuesday as Christopher Gonzalez, 20, and Joey Jesse Lopez, 27, both of Fresno.

Dyer said Gonzalez and Lopez were trying to visit a friend near the convenience store at Belmont and Palm avenues about 6 a.m. Monday. When nobody answered the door at the home on the 800 block of North Farris Avenue, the men went to the convenience store to use a pay phone.

Gonzalez told police that while he was using the phone, Lopez stepped out of the pickup, went to the rear of the beer truck and fired his gun at Hernandez.

When police arrived, Hernandez was dead.

A police officer saw the pickup with the two men speed out of the convenience store parking lot and, without knowing what had occurred, gave chase.

Gonzalez drove through residential streets at speeds of more than 70 mph. The officer called off the pursuit at Olive and Weber avenues because of wet roads. The pickup was later found a few blocks away with a damaged tire near Lamona and Teilman avenues.

Later in the morning, police arrested Lopez after receiving a call from the 1200 block of North Esther Avenue of a man in a yard who looked suspicious.

His clothing was wet, full of grass and matched what Lopez was wearing at the time of the shooting, Dyer said. The gun was found Tuesday afternoon in a nearby yard.

Gonzalez was arrested Monday evening by Fresno police detectives at a home in Clovis.

Authorities have not determined whether either suspect was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, but a toxicology screening was done, the chief said.

Dyer said the shooting was caught by two video systems from the convenience store where the slaying occurred and through the city's video policing system.

Gonzalez's account seems consistent with the video, Dyer said. The pickup they used belonged to a friend of Gonzalez's, Dyer said.

It had an insignia for C's Automotive Sunroof Repair. A person at the company said Monday that the pickup had been stolen. Dyer said Tuesday it was not reported stolen.

Police said Gonzalez had used the pickup before. Dyer said investigators have not linked it to any other crimes.

Lopez and Gonzalez were booked into Fresno County Jail late Monday night and early Tuesday on suspicion of murder. An additional charge of evading a peace officer was listed for Gonzalez, according to Fresno County Jail records.

Dyer said both Lopez and Gonzalez are gang members with criminal records.

Lopez served time in state prison for assault with a deadly weapon, according to records from Fresno County Superior Court and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He also is a parole violator.

Gonzalez was on probation for a 2008 weapons violation after serving time in Fresno County Jail, according to court records.

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