Postal customers, friends and family are remembering an Albuquerque mail carrier who was killed Monday after trying to break-up a fight between a mom and her teen son.
Albuquerque Police confirmed Tuesday 47-year old Jose Hernandez, a USPS mail carrier, was shot to death in a neighborhood near 98th Street and Tower Road.
The suspect accused in the shooting, 17-year old Xavier Zamora, is now facing an open count of murder but hasn’t been arrested in the case. Police say Zamora is still on the run.
The shooting happened around 4:30 p,m. Monday in the Sunrise Meadow neighborhood in southwest Albuquerque.
Dozens of people created and added to a memorial for Hernandez on Tuesday, outside the home where the deadly shooting took place. One handwritten message recognizes Hernandez for bravery helping a mother in need.
Neighbors who knew Hernandez are in shock.
“How it ended up…it was the wrong way to go with him. He was doing the right thing, and somebody took his life for no reason,” neighbor Michael Shephard said.
Police say Zamora was fighting with his mother in front of their home before the shooting. Hernandez, who was on his route, came across the situation and tried to diffuse it.
Police say when Zamora got rough, Hernandez maced him. That’s when the mother says Zamora went back into their home, got a gun and shot Hernandez.
Neighbor Alex Perez heard the gunfire.
“When I opened my door, the first thing I saw was the mailman on the floor,” said Perez.
Perez and his daughter left flowers at a mailbox close to where the shooting happened.
“He always had a really big smile on his face and he would like.. always wave at everyone,” said Mia Perez. “We knew him, he had a really big heart.”
KRQE News 13 is told that Hernandez worked at the Five Points Post Office. A memorial there is also growing. Friends say he’s a two-time Gulf War veteran, a father, and say he loved music, dancing and laughing.
Zamora’s home was left with broken windows and large holes as a result of the SWAT team trying to get that teen out after the shooting. Witnesses say Zamora barricaded himself inside after killing Hernandez but was gone when officers went in.
The boy’s next-door neighbor told KRQE News 13 Tuesday they’re shocked, saying Zamora was always such a good kid. Congresswoman Deb Halaand is speaking out as well, saying she’s working with Congress on solutions to end gun violence and finding ways to support law enforcement.
The United States Postal Inspection Service has taken over the investigation because Hernandez was a federal employee killed while on duty, but Zamora is charged in state court with an open count of murder.