ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KOAT/CNN) - An arrest warrant has been issued as police search for a 17-year-old suspected of killing a postal worker who tried to stop a fight between the teenager and his mother.
Neighbor Michael Sheppard says everyone in the area knew their mailman, 47-year-old Jose Hernandez, who was gunned down Monday afternoon in Albuquerque, NM.
"Jose was a very special guy. He was not your ordinary mailman. He’d go out of his way to talk to you. If packages were too big to put in the mailbox, he would bring them over to your house,” Sheppard said.
According to court documents, Hernandez, an Army veteran and father of four, was delivering mail when he stepped in to help a mother who was fighting with her 17-year-old son, Xavier Zamora.
Zamora became aggressive toward Hernandez, so the postal worker used Mace on him, the documents say.
According to officials, Zamora then ran inside his mother’s home, came back with a gun and shot Hernandez in his stomach. Afterward, he ran back inside the home and refused to come out.
Officials say Zamora’s mother stayed with Hernandez until help could come, but the postal worker later died.
"It’s a sad thing that somebody lost their temper and committed a crime against Jose when he didn’t deserve it,” Sheppard said. “Totally innocent person defending somebody - and then to be killed for it, it’s senseless.”
Zamora ran away from the home following the incident, and there is a warrant out for his arrest. He is charged with an open count of murder.
The U.S. Postal Service issued a statement, saying it’s saddened by the tragic incident and its thoughts are with Hernandez’s family.