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Police still investigating Friday's fatal shooting

Everybody liked Jose Francisco Hernandez, 22, his aunt says, which makes it that much harder for his family to believe he became Merced's latest homicide victim Friday night.

Merced police are looking for a "person of interest" in the drive-by shooting of Hernandez at 5:36 p.m. in the intersection of 11th and O streets but the investigation continues.

Hernandez, who worked at the Central Valley Opportunity Center in Merced, was shot several times and was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Lucy Rubalcava, Hernandez' aunt, said Sunday afternoon that her nephew didn't have problems with anybody and was well-liked.

"He was not in gangs or anything like that. He liked to go walking and be around his cousins. He was a Christian," Rubalcava said.

She said Hernandez' family members were "holding up real well" because of their deep Christian faith. Hernandez, a native of Corona, was not married.

Detective Rod Court of the Merced Police Department said detectives have a number of people left to interview and the investigation is proceeding. It is believed the shooting suspect may have gang ties.

Court said detectives are still seeking witnesses to the shooting and are asking anyone with information to call the department's Confidential Tipster Line at 209-385-4725 or call him or Detective Chris Russell at 209-385-6905.

Rubalcava said Hernandez had lived in Merced for 10 years but went to school in the Los Angeles area. He had two sisters and five brothers. Funeral arrangements are pending at Ivers and Alcorn Funeral Home.

Hernandez was the 10th person to be killed this year in Merced County. Officers found Hernandez lying at the southeast corner of the intersection. Sgt. Cruz Jasso said witnesses reported Hernandez was shot by someone in a compact car who fled westbound on West 11th Street.

Associate Editor Doane Yawger

can be reached at 209-385-2485 or