Jerimiah Hernandez’s death hasn’t become real yet for one of his best friends, Alyssa Carter.
“I just don’t believe it. I don’t feel anything, and I feel really strange because I’m really close to Jerimiah,” said Alyssa, 15, of Victoria. “It feels like it’s not real because we were just with him.”
Victoria Police Department officers found 16-year-old Jerimiah dead in a field in the 5300 block of Lone Tree Road at 8:17 p.m. Saturday, Victoria Police Chief J.J. Craig said at a press conference Sunday. Jerimiah went missing Friday night after he left his grandmother’s apartment, where he lived, to go visit his girlfriend.
Officers responded to apartments at 1801 Lova Drive at 1:34 a.m. Saturday to a 911 call about an unknown type of disturbance, Craig said. Through investigation, officers determined that a 16-year-old boy was shot by another juvenile in a red truck at the location. The truck left the location with the victim. Victoria County Sheriff’s Office deputies found the truck at 5:45 a.m. at Placedo Hall apartments, 355 S. Williams St., in Placedo.
About five hours later, officers arrested a 15-year-old Victoria boy at the same apartments and transported him to the Victoria County Juvenile Detention Center, where he was held on charges of murder and tampering with physical evidence, Craig said. Police are not identifying the boy because of his age.
“At this time, the investigation is ongoing, but we are focusing our efforts on one juvenile offender right now,” he said at the press conference. “Many follow-ups are being conducted.”
Craig said Jerimiah suffered a gunshot wound, but an autopsy will be performed Monday to determine the cause of death. The Victoria Police Department is presenting the case to the district attorney’s office.
“We’d like to take this opportunity to offer our condolences to the family of Jerimiah during this tragic time,” the police chief said.
A Victoria Housing Authority resident who did not want to be identified said she was awake when the shooting happened.
“Since I’m always concerned about what’s happening, I’ll be up at 2 or 3 in the morning, so I knew something was happening,” she said. “There wasn’t a confrontation or fight or anything; there was just a shot and that was it.”
Alyssa said she hung out with Jerimiah a few days ago, and the two have been friends for two years.
“Every time we would go walking, he would want to come with us,” said Alyssa, who spoke to the Victoria Advocate with her mother’s permission. “He would always be around me. That’s how I know him.”
She said Jerimiah was close friends with the person she thinks is the suspect. She said the two liked to show off guns to each other, so the shooting could have been an accident. She also said she thinks multiple people were involved.
“They’re really, really close. They do everything together,” she said. “Maybe they accidentally shot Jerimiah and got scared and then hid the body.”
Jerimiah and his friend previously stole a car together, and both have a criminal history, she said.
Larissa Hernandez, 15, of San Antonio, is Jerimiah’s cousin and grew up with him. After his disappearance, their family was told a lot of lies about Jerimiah, she said.
“Everyone is taking it pretty hard,” said Larissa, who spoke with the Victoria Advocate with her grandmother’s permission. “He had a pretty big impact on a lot of us. We want to have his body, at least, and have a lot of justice for him.”
Selena Ebat, 21, of San Antonio, also is Jerimiah’s cousin. She said they used to watch conspiracy videos on YouTube and go fishing and swimming at the Guadalupe River at Riverside Park.
Jerimiah was never in a gang, she said.
“He was just a good kid,” she said. “Every teen kind of follows the wrong crowd sometimes, and sometimes they do stupid things, but what kid hasn’t? Most of all, he was just outgoing.”
This story was updated on Aug. 6, 2018, to correct the spelling of Jerimiah Hernandez's name and his age in one instance.