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Woodside man arraigned for attempted murder, other crimes for shooting building super in standoff with cops: DA

Woodside man William Hernandez was arraigned Dec. 6 for allegedly shooting his building superintendent last month and firing at responding police officers. (Photo by Dean Moses)

Dec. 6, 2023 By Bill Parry

A Woodside man who got into a shootout with the NYPD last month after allegedly holding his building superintendent at gunpoint before shooting him was criminally charged Dec. 6 with attempted murder and other crimes in Queens Supreme Court.

William Hernandez, 65, of 54th Street, was arraigned on an 11-count indictment charging him with attempted murder, kidnapping, assault, weapons charges and reckless endangerment.

Woodside man William Hernandez was arraigned Dec. 6 for allegedly shooting his building superintendent last month and firing at responding police officers. (Photo by Dean Moses)

According to the charges, on the morning of Nov. 22, at around 10:00 a.m., Hernandez confronted the superintendent on the second floor of the building where he lived. The superintendent, Cruz Catana Velasquez, 48, had gone to see a tenant. Hernandez pointed a 9 mm handgun at him, directed him into an elevator and held the elevator. Hernandez prevented Velasquez from leaving the elevator for approximately 54 minutes, continually threatening to shoot him.

When Hernandez’ attention was distracted by passersby in the hallway, Velasquez ran from the elevator to the nearby staircase. Hernandez fired numerous shots at him, striking the victim in the shoulder, side and abdomen, according to the charges.

Woodside man William Hernandez was arraigned Dec. 6 for allegedly shooting his building superintendent last month and firing at responding police officers. (Photo by Dean Moses)

Velasquez ran down the staircase to the lobby and out of the building. Two people saw the wounded superintendent and called 911. Responding officers from the 114th Precinct arrived on the scene and saw a Hispanic man reach out of a sixth-floor apartment window and fire a shot directly across the street, the charges allege. A team of officers went up to the sixth floor and observed Hernandez hiding behind a wall with a gun in his hand. After Hernandez ignored repeated commands to drop the gun, an officer fired at him. Hernandez fired back at the officer and the same officer returned fire. No one was hit.

When Hernandez barricaded himself inside his sixth-floor apartment, heavily-armed members of the NYPD’s elite Emergency Services Unit responded to the scene. Hernandez refused to come out. The armed standoff lasted for about two and a half hours.

Woodside man William Hernandez was arraigned Dec. 6 for allegedly shooting his building superintendent last month and firing at responding police officers. (Photo by Dean Moses)

ESU officers entered the apartment after hearing a gunshot and found Hernandez in the bathroom with a gunshot wound to his chest, according to the charges. Hernandez was apprehended at approximately 1:45 p.m. and taken to a nearby hospital. The superintendent underwent surgery for his gunshot wounds.

Following Hernandez’ apprehension, a search warrant was obtained for his apartment. A loaded 9 mm firearm was recovered from the hallway inside by members of the NYPD.

“The defendant is charged with attempted murder in the first degree for allegedly trying to kill a police officer in addition to attempted murder in the second degree in the shooting of his building superintendent,” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said. “This is not the Wild West. This extremely dangerous and highly volatile situation was safely defused thanks to the bravery and skill of the responding NYPD officers. Carnage was averted and the defendant will now have to answer to the charges we have filed against him.”

Queens Supreme Court Justice Leigh K. Cheng ordered Hernandez to return to court on Jan. 17. Hernandez faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

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