A routine court hearing for a man who shot and killed another man New Year's Eve in San Jose erupted into a fight between two families.
The victim's family wants justice for the dead father and the other is calling for leniency for the man who shot him.
Family and friends of 26-year-old Ricardo Hernandez streamed out of the Santa Clara County Courthouse Friday afternoon after showing up to support the second-degree-murder suspect.
They were taunted by the family of 36-year old Christopher Soriano, the man killed Dec. 31 in San Jose in what police describe as a citizen's arrest gone wrong.
Soriano's family told KTVU they're upset Hernandez is being portrayed as a hero.
Police said Hernandez was called to the Summer Breeze apartment complex by his maintenance supervisor after Soriano was spotted on the property.
Hernandez and his supervisor confronted Soriano, and officers said that's when Hernandez shot the unarmed Soriano with an illegally bought gun.
"He had an illegal gun, for God's sake, and kills a man, a father of five children," said Glenda Soriano, the victim's mother. “Took my son away from me. How can they say he's a hero?"
An online petition asking for leniency for Hernandez has received more than 500 signatures and family members said he's also getting several letters of support.
They wonder what Hernandez was supposed to do in a city with a dwindling police department and rising crime.
But Soriano's family wants a stiff punishment.
"Everybody in our city feels that they're not secure and what's going to happen to them and it speaks to them. It could be their son on either side," said Gina Gates, the Hernandez family spokeswoman.
"I think he deserves a second chance," said Paulina Martinez, a supporter of Hernandez.
Delilah Soriano, the victim's daughter, vehemently disagrees.
"Give him 25 years or give him life," she said. "He's going to get worse, because he's going to rot in hell for this. He's going to rot in hell."
The district attorney's office released a statement Friday saying the current facts show that at the time of the shooting, Hernandez had no legal excuse or justification for using deadly force on an unarmed man.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 15.
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