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Westgate shooting leaves 3 people injured, suspect tells police he felt 'bullied'

Armando Hernandez
Shooting at Westgate
Posted at 7:52 PM, May 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-23 10:35:35-04

GLENDALE, AZ — A man who opened fire at Westgate Entertainment District in Glendale Wednesday night, injuring three people, told police he went to the shopping center to target victims "because he was bullied and wanted respect."

Police said at a Thursday briefing that a 19-year-old man who was shot and taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries remains in critical condition.

A 16-year-old girl was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, and a 30-year-old woman was also shot but didn't require hospitalization. A pregnant woman was also hospitalized due to unrelated health issues but is expected to be ok.

The suspect, identified by police as 20-year-old Armando Hernandez Jr., was arrested at the scene and reportedly admitted to detectives that he had gone to Westgate "intending to harm 10 people."

See video of his initial appearance in front of a judge in the player below.

Reports of an active shooter came in to Glendale police around 7:55 p.m. and officers arrived at the facility by 8 p.m. One of two responding officers first at the scene was able to take Hernandez into custody without incident.

Armando Hernandez

According to police, Hernandez arrived at Westgate, and first surveyed the area before going back to his vehicle, drinking alcohol and retrieving his assault rifle. He could then be seen on video from the scene walking through the center firing shots.

Stores, restaurants, and bars at the shopping facility, located near 95th and Glendale avenues, were told to "shelter in place" even hours later while Glendale police and other agencies conducted additional searches in the area.

The investigation was still active Thursday morning and the area remained closed to the public.

Police raided Hernandez's Peoria home overnight and also searched his vehicle at the scene.

According to police documents, Hernandez said he was targeting people around his age "to shoot so that he could get respect." He went through the entertainment district with his weapon to "intimidate people."

Police documents and a state attorney, during his initial court appearance, say Hernandez thought of committing the act in the past and showed interest in past mass shootings. He said he didn't want to kill any of the victims, but wanted to hurt them.

Documents show that while Hernandez reportedly shot the third victim, he told her "she was lucky he let her live" while his gun malfunctioned and police arrived and he decided to give up to police.

During the shooting spree, police say a power box was also shot, causing a temporary power outage of the Westgate area.

Arizona Sen. Martín Quezada, who represents Maryvale and Glendale, said in a tweet that he was at Westgate when the shooting occurred.

"I just witnessed an armed terrorist with an AR-15 shoot up Westgate. There are multiple victims," he said.

According to a GoFundMe account started for Alfredo Jaime, the 19-year-old was the victim shot in the chest and remains in a hospital in critical condition. His family says he doesn't have health insurance and is in need of financial support. According to the fundraiser, Jaime is hooked up to breathing machines and his family isn't allowed to be with him due to COVID-19 restrictions.

ABC15 spoke to the friend of the 30-year-old female victim that was injured. James Sandoval said a group of friends were having dinner at Bar Louie when the shots rang out.

"If I had to describe it, it's something that you'd see in maybe a war movie. Just loud quick bursts," said Sandoval.

Sandoval said people in the restaurant hid in the bathrooms while people outside ran for their lives.

"There was a lot of panic, there was a lot of crying, a lot of people being confused wondering what was going on," he said.

Minutes later, Sandoval realized his friend had left.

"I had to go and make sure she was ok. By the time I got around the corner, police apprehended the gentlemen and had it under control. I found my friend and thank God she's ok."

His friend had been shot in the leg. Police say she had minor injuries and wasn't taken to the hospital.

"It's the worst feeling in the world. You can't do anything. It's an uncontrollable situation, you can't help your friend," Sandoval said.

Sandoval knows his friend is lucky to be alive. He said as terrifying as the shooting was, it could've been a lot worse.

"Just goes to show you how precious life can be. You need to cherish every day and everybody you love and everybody around you."

Officials confirmed Thursday that a video posted to social media Wednesday night was originated by the suspect, and encouraged anyone who may have seen additional videos to contact police. Police have also set up a website for the public to upload any photos or video from the scene.

Hernandez is facing 16 felony counts, including charges of aggravated assault, criminal damage, and weapons misconduct.

During his initial court appearance Thursday, Hernandez was given a $1 million cash bond. He is expected to appear in court again on May 28.

A spokesperson for Westgate Entertainment District released the following statement after the incident:

"We can confirm that a shooting happened this evening at Westgate Entertainment District. We are deeply troubled by this incident and our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. Westgate will continue to work closely with the Glendale Police Department and in-house security to best ensure the safety of our customers, tenants and residents. Additional questions should be directed to the Glendale Police Department."

Governor Doug Ducey released the following statement Thursday morning:

“First and foremost, our hearts and prayers are with the individuals and families impacted tonight, as well as the first responders and police officers who are on the scene. As we learn additional details, the state is here to continue to offer its full support to the victims and to the community. The Arizona Department of Public Safety has been in regular communication with the Glendale Police Department and the State of Arizona stands ready to provide any resources and support needed."