PHOENIX – A gunman who fired on a Chandler Police Officer and a civilian observer who was in the officer’s vehicle has been found guilty of multiple counts of attempted murder and aggravated assault after a two week trial. Steven Ramirez Hernandez (D.O.B. 1/26/1963) was also found guilty of endangering several other bystanders during the incident and for having a firearm while being a prohibited possessor due to a previous felony conviction. He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2014 before Judge Teresa Sanders.
“I commend the jury for appropriately holding this defendant accountable for attempting to use deadly force against a uniformed law enforcement officer and endangering the lives and safety of innocent bystanders,” said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “We now look forward to the imposition of a just sentence that will prevent him from threatening members of our community in the future,” he added.
At approximately 8:00 p.m. on May 8, 2013, Steven Hernandez went to the Chandler Regional Hospital armed with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun and got into a confrontation with his daughter’s boyfriend in the Special Care area of the hospital nursery. Hernandez displayed the weapon and was told to leave. Hospital security officers and the Chandler Police Department were called.
By the time Chandler Police Officer Ben Pitts arrived on the scene, Hernandez was walking away from the hospital while being followed by hospital security officers. A civilian observer was in Officer Pitts’ vehicle. When Officer Pitts attempted to make contact with the Hernandez, the defendant immediately pulled out his gun and began firing at Officer Pitts. He fired seven shots at the Officer, four of which struck the car. Officer Pitts was able to return fire, hitting Hernandez in the arm. Hernandez was then taken into custody and transported to the hospital.
After a two week trial, Hernandez was found guilty of two counts of attempted second degree murder and aggravated assault as to Officer Pitts and the civilian observer in his vehicle; three counts of disorderly conduct with a firearm; two counts of endangerment; and one count of misconduct involving weapons for having a gun as a prohibited possessor. The jury also unanimously found that each of the guilty counts constituted a dangerous offense and that allegations of aggravating circumstances were proven beyond a reasonable doubt. If he is sentenced to maximum consecutive terms for each offense, Hernandez could face as much as 99 years in prison.