Man shot dead in Pilsen on the eve of Chicago police entry exam, family says

Chicago Crime

CHICAGO — Michael Hernandez was supposed to take the Chicago Police entrance exam last Saturday, but the 28-year-old Pilsen native was gunned down in a deadly drive-by shooting the night before.

As 10th District detectives work to find the culprits who opened fire on Hernandez as he parked his car the night of Dec. 3, his loved ones are demanding justice for the senseless taking of an innocent life.

“Things are not going to be the same anymore. He was everything to us,” said Jadira Hernandez, who told WGN News her family is heartbroken, lamenting the loss of her only brother. “My mother and my sister, they heard the shots.”

After gunshots rang, the Pilsen family said they ran to the window after 6 p.m. Friday to see if anyone got hurt, only to realize it was Hernandez who was mortally wounded.

He was later pronounced dead at Mt. Sinai Hospital.

“I didn’t just lose a brother, I lost a friend. My rock,” Jadira Hernandez said. “I lost my daughter’s hero because that’s what he was. He was my daughter’s hero.”

Loved ones said Michael Hernandez was a doting uncle, picking up his 6-year-old niece, Ariana, from school every day — driving her to pet baby tigers at a wildlife refuge. 

Now, Jadira Hernandez is tasked with telling Ariana that her uncle is gone.

“You can’t put into words the pain,” Jadira Hernandez said. “A six-year-old shouldn’t have to hear those words.”

According to police, Michael Hernandez was parking his vehicle on the 2000 block of W. 23rd Place Friday, Dec. 3, across the street from his home. Surveillance video captured a car carrying multiple occupants who opened fire, unleashing more than a dozen shots into Hernandez’s car.

A motive in the shooting is unclear, police added.

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Hernandez, who worked at the University of Illinois Chicago, had no gang involvement or criminal record of any kind, the family said. He also passed background checks to get a permit to carry a gun for protection.

Family members add that the 28-year-old had dreamed of becoming a Chicago police officer.

“He was actually planning to take the test on Saturday,” Jadira Hernandez said.

In published reports, Chicago police commanders pointed to what appears to be simmering disputes between rival gangs. As a result, there’s fear that Michael Hernandez was possibly mistaken for somebody else. 

Now Hernandez’s grieving family wonders if there’s a better way to alert residents. 

“A simple alert, I would’ve told my brother to stay home,” said Michael Hernandez’s sister. “As soon as it gets dark, stay home.”

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