Central Falls homicide victim had worked with city’s youth

CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — Maritza Hernandez says she heard gunshots near her Earle St. home Sunday night around 8 p.m. It wasn’t long before she found out her son, Christian Huertas Hernandez, had been on the receiving end.

Central Falls police Monday morning identified Hernandez, 22, as the victim of Sunday night’s fatal shooting on Richardson Street, the first homicide of the year in the city.

His family told Eyewitness News Hernandez got off of work at Price Rite after 7 p.m., and was walking home. The spot where he was shot was just around the corner from his home. Police responded to a 911 call reporting shots fired at 8 p.m.

When officers arrived they said they found Hernandez on the ground. He was transported to Rhode Island Hospital with a gunshot wound to the abdomen and was later pronounced dead, police said.

As of Monday afternoon, no arrests had been made. Lt. Christopher Reed declined to comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.

Hernandez’s employer released a statement about his death.

“We were deeply saddened to hear this tragic news and our thoughts and prayers go out to Christian’s family. He joined the company last September and was a dedicated and caring associate and an important part of our team,” said Karen Meleta, a spokesperson for Price Rite Marketplace.”

In a tweet Monday morning, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa said Hernandez worked in the city’s summer youth program and “impacted many young people’s lives.” His office said Hernandez spent two summers working at the “food program” in Jenks Park, where kids can get free lunches while school is out for the summer.

“I spoke to his mother and assured her that we will do everything to ensure that justice is served,” Diossa said.

Hernandez’s friend Javier Rosado said the two grew up together, went to Central Falls High School and played together on the school’s basketball team.

“Growing up we just played basketball. He would always just be in the court. Every time we were there he would be there,” Rosado said, who added he doesn’t know anyone who would have wanted to hurt his friend. “A really good friend. Always out of trouble. Never heard of him in fights.”

Dozens gathered on Richardson Street Monday night for a candlelight vigil in Huertas Hernandez’s honor.

The Central Falls Police Department is asking anyone with information about the shooting to contact the police department directly at (401) 727-7411 or the TIPS line at (401) 727-7420. All calls will remain anonymous.