Siler City reels from violent murder Sunday

BY D. LARS DOLDER, News + Record Staff
Posted 12/23/20

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office was still searching at press time for Sergio “Yovani” Rodriguez, wanted in connection with the murder of Jose “Ramon” Hernandez, of Siler City.

Police …

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Siler City reels from violent murder Sunday

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Posted

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office was still searching at press time for Sergio “Yovani” Rodriguez, wanted in connection with the murder of Jose “Ramon” Hernandez, of Siler City.

Police were first notified of the incident at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Sunday when the Chatham County Emergency Operations Center received several phone calls from concerned residents reporting gunfire around U.S. Hwy. 64, just west of U.S. Hwy. 421 near Siler City. Later it was identified that a shooting had occurred on Waterford Street, off of Fairfax Street.

Siler City police were the first to respond to the scene, followed shortly thereafter by Chatham County Sheriff’s Office deputies. First responders found Hernandez, who had been shot several times in the torso. He was treated on scene and transported to the UNC-Chapel Hill Medical Center, but ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Rodriguez, 24, also a Siler City resident, is charged with one count of first-degree murder and three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. His relationship to Hernandez, 28, is unconfirmed, but two sources told the News + Record he was Hernandez’s brother-in-law.

Rodriguez has not turned himself in as of Tuesday morning, and is being sought for questioning related to the case. The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office is leading the ongoing investigation into Hernandez’s death and requests that anyone with relevant information, including tips regard Rodriguez’s whereabouts, contact the Sheriff’s Office non-emergency line at 919-542-2911.

Shooting incidents are rare in Siler City, and fatal shootings even rarer. In the wake of Hernandez’s death, many Chathamites are distressed and afraid, according to Sheriff Mike Roberson.

“We know this type of incident is scary,” he said. “We’re working together with other agencies to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Chatham residents who knew Hernandez called him an upstanding and productive member of society, not the sort anyone would expect to be the victim of violence.

“I mean, it’s just completely out of the blue, insane, crazy that this would happen to Ramon,” said Paul Cuadros, an associate professor of journalism at UNC who knew Hernandez for many years. “… I don’t know the full facts surrounding that night; there’s a police investigation going on, of course, I’m aware of that. But I can only think that this was a completely pointless and senseless killing.”

Besides teaching at UNC, Cuadros works as the head soccer coach at Jordan-Matthews, where he first met Hernandez when the latter was a student. Hernandez, “always a happy-go-lucky person,” according to Cuadros, was a star athlete and went on to play soccer in college at UNC-Pembroke before returning to Jordan-Matthews where he briefly joined Cuadros on the coaching staff.

“Ramon was a class act all the way,” Cuadros said. “He was a decent and good young man who was developing his leadership skills and was dedicated to helping people in the community.”

Besides assisting Cuadros as a coach, Hernandez had begun work as a social worker with Chatham County schools, helping the next generation of young people — especially those in the Hispanic community — to achieve success.

“This was a big loss for the community …” Cuadros said. “It’s going to be felt by lots of people in our community; we are all shocked and dismayed by the tragic loss of Ramon. I think that’s the general feeling right now — it’s one of shock.”

Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at dldolder@chathamnr.com and on Twitter @dldolder.

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