GLENDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Police say the suspect in the shooting at the Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale told detectives that he did it because he wanted to gain some respect.
Videos posted on social media show terrifying moments when the gunshots rang out at Westgate.
One of the first two responding officers, a lieutenant with 26 years on the job, quickly located the suspect, later identified as Armando Hernandez Jr., and "took him into custody without further incident," Sgt. Randy Stewart of the Glendale Police Department said Thursday. The arrest came shortly after gunshots rang out just before 7:30 p.m. in the District at 95th and Glendale avenues. Stewart said Hernandez cooperated with officers and did not put up a fight when they detained him.
According to police, Armando Hernandez Jr. "scoped out the scene" at Westgate and then went back to his car to get a black assault rifle, poss…
Three people were wounded in the shooting. A 19-year-old man was shot in the chest and is in critical condition, Stewart said. A 16-year-old girl suffered less serious injuries, and a 30-year-old woman did not need to go the the hospital.
There was shelter-in-place order issued via reverse 911 while Glendale police, with the help of several other agencies, scoured the extensive Westgate complex to make sure there was not another shooter. That order was lifted around midnight.
According to Stewart, Hernandez "scoped out the scene" at Westgate and then went back to his car to get an AR-15 rifle. He loaded it to capacity and then walked back into the District.
“The suspect in this case did later admit to detectives that he was planning on going Westgate to harm 10 victims with this horrendous act," Stewart said. "He said that he went to Westgate to target victims. He wanted to gain some respect and he felt that he had been bullied in his life."
According to public court documents, Hernandez told police he was looking for "targets that were within his general age range to shoot so that he could get respect." He also "admitted that had thought of committing this act in the past before and tonight he let his dark side act ..."
"Armando stated he ... shot the third victim in the leg and told her she was lucky he let her live before his weapon malfunctioned ...," the probable cause for arrest statement reads. "Armando stated multiple times he wanted to do this mass shooting for respect and spoke of interest in previous mass shootings that have occurred in recent years. He also stated he wanted at least 10 victims. Armando denied wanting to kill any of the victims but confirmed he wanted to injure them with the gun to gain respect."
Stewart also confirmed that Hernandez posted video of himself before and during the shooting to social media. "Witnesses reported seeing Armando holding his cell phone in his left hand and the AR-15 in his right hand as he was shooting at Westgate," according to the probable cause for arrest statement. "This is consistent with Armando actively taking video of himself performing in the incident."
Investigators found that rifle at the scene, Stewart said. They also located Hernandez's car in the east parking lot. Police got a search warrant for the car, Hernandez's cell phone, and his Peoria home, according to the probable cause for arrest statement.
In addition to wounding three people, police say Hernandez's gunfire hit an SRP transformer and knocked out power to most of Westgate and intersections in the area. Power has since been restored.
Hernandez is facing more than a dozen felony charges right now, and more could be coming.
- Three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon
- Three counts of aggravated assault-serious physical injury
- One count of criminal damage-deface
- One count of recklessly damaging property of utility
- Five counts of discharge firearm in city limit
- One count of disorderly conduct with a weapon
Hernandez made his initial court appearance late Thursday morning. The lawyer representing Hernandez said he does not appear to have any criminal history. "This is his first contact with the legal system," he said, also pointing out that he has family and "significant ties" to the community. The lawyer for the state referred to what Hernandez allegedly told police. "This wasn't a gun accidentally going off," he said. "Mr. Hernandez had the purpose of taking out his expressed anger at society .... He wanted these people to feel the pain he feels on a daily basis. He suffers from extreme anger. ... There isn't a scenario where the community would be safe with the defendant out of custody," he continued.
A woman barricaded herself in her loft at Westgate after hearing gunshots and seeing the shooter.
The judge set a cash-only bond of $1 million, which the prosecutor requested and the defense called "utterly ridiculous," and scheduled a preliminary hearing for May 28.
The Glendale Police Department is asking anyone who recorded video of the shooting to upload it so detectives can get a clearer picture of what happened at Westgate Wednesday night.
“As we begin to emerge from our homes into our public spaces again, evil acts like this have a very, very fearful and paralyzing effect – that is, if we left them,” Mayor Jerry Weiers said late Thursday morning. “I’m asking all of you, please don’t give into fear. Don’t allow senseless acts like this to change your habits.” He described the Westgate shooting as “a very isolated incident,” offering his assurance that both the city and the Westgate community are safe.
STORIES FROM THE SCENE
A mother, who did not want to be identified, said her daughter was hiding at the Yard House. She's been able to call and text her daughter, and the daughter talked to her dad, who lives in Hawaii.
A mother said she got a call from her daughter who said she had to hide under a booth at the Yard House at Westgate during a shooting.
"She's like, 'I love you guys.' She's scared. She's 22," the mother said. "You don't think it's going to happen in your home, in your backyard. You think you're safe."
Family members were celebrating at Bar Louie when they heard there was an active shooter at Westgate in Glendale.
The mother said her daughter was under the table but was then sitting at a booth. She said SWAT was going around and clearing all the buildings.
"It's painstaking, to think your child is in there and you're just waiting," the mother said. "There's nothing else you can do. I just want to hold her."
A man named Julian told Arizona's Family he was eating at the Johnny Rockets with his family when he saw the shooter start firing in all directions. He and his family weren't hurt and hid in the restaurant.
The Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale is on lockdown after a shooting left two people hurt and one person in custody.
State Sen. Martin Quezada, who represents Maryvale and Glendale in the Arizona legislature, tweeted saying he actually witnessed the shooter.
Arizona Sen. Martin Quezada was working in his home when he heard the gunshots and saw people running for their lives during the shooting at W…
I just witnessed an armed terrorist with an AR-15 shoot up Westgate. There are multiple victims.— Sen. Martín Quezada (@SenQuezada29) May 21, 2020