A Kennewick man is wanted for questioning in an August gang-related shooting that left a man dead.
Oscar Ernesto Hernandez, 23, was identified Wednesday as a “person of interest” in the death of Jorge Antonio Jimenez.
Kennewick police stopped short of calling Hernandez a suspect in the Aug. 16 incident at Heatherstone Apartments.
“If we had enough to say he was for sure involved in that homicide, we would say that,” Sgt. Ken Lattin said. “But we don’t have anything more than he is a person of interest we would like to talk to.”
No charges have been filed in Benton County Superior Court in relation to Jimenez’s death, and search warrants for the investigation have been sealed.
However, Hernandez does have an active arrest warrant out of Pasco Municipal Court. He is wanted for destruction of property and two counts of simple assault, said Court Administrator Dot French. The destruction charge and one assault include domestic violence allegations.
Investigators checked the last place he was known to be living in Kennewick and he wasn’t there, Lattin said.
“We thought we’d use that (arrest warrant) as a tool to get his face out there,” he said.
Judge Dave Petersen issued a warrant with $5,000 cash-only bail when Hernandez failed to appear for a hearing in January.
Somebody died in our city and that’s a big deal, regardless what people think of that person maybe being involved in criminal activity or a gang.
Kennewick police Sgt. Ken Lattin
In the Kennewick case, two people reportedly shot at Jimenez after he confronted them carving their rival gang insignia into the paint of his parked SUV. At least a dozen shots were fired, according to initial police reports.
Jimenez, 20, was hit in the stomach and leg. Some friends helped him back into his second-floor apartment, where he died before police and paramedics arrived.
The suspects were last seen running through the apartment complex on 10th Avenue, across the street from Park Middle School.
Officers got several tips in the week after the killing, but nothing that led to an arrest.
Lattin said it remains an active investigation.
“It’s not been put on the back burner. Somebody died in our city and that’s a big deal, regardless what people think of that person maybe being involved in criminal activity or a gang,” Lattin said. “It is still a human life that was taken.”
“We need to explore every opportunity, and right now there is enough information about Mr. Hernandez that he is a person of interest we want to talk to,” he added.
Lattin could not say if Hernandez is a member or an associate of a gang.
Anyone with information on Hernandez’s location is asked to call 911 or Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers at 509-586-8477.