CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Christian Huertas Hernandez didn’t rush straight home after getting off of work at Price Rite on Lonsdale Avenue on the Pawtucket-Central Falls border.
He stopped to play soccer with some local kids in the parking lot. He liked sports and spent summers working with local youth.
It was just before 8 o’clock when he started making the roughly 10-minute walk to his home on Earle Street. His mother, Maritza, was there waiting.
Christian never arrived.
Police found him lying in front of 16 Richardson Street, just a few hundred feet away from his own front door, with a gunshot wound to the abdomen.
“One of the witnesses said he heard four or five gunshots and a car peeling his tires and taking off,” explained Detective Jeffrey Araujo of Central Falls police. Whoever fired those shots has never been charged.
Christian was so close to home that Maritza heard the gunfire. She knew the worst had happened when her son failed to walk through the door.
Those who knew Christian couldn’t believe he would be the target of a shooting. Family friend Mary Garcia saw the report on the news.
“I was totally shocked,” she said. “I couldn’t believe it. I was hearing it, looking at it but I could not believe it. And I immediately called his father. And there it was: devastation.”
Christian’s father Damaso Huertas lives in Puerto Rico. Christian was his only son.
In the hours and days after his murder, a memorial for Christian grew at the spot where he was killed. It still remains today. Local leaders spoke publicly about his service to the community.
“When we found out he was the victim we were just as shocked, too,” Araujo said. “We’re looking for everything: neighbors, witnesses… and everything kept falling back to: he had no relation to being shot.”
“We don’t believe he was the intended target,” he said.
Detectives identified a suspect vehicle, a 2000-2004 gold or silver Infinity, but no arrests have been made.
“I believe I have a good idea who’s involved, yes,” Araujo said. “We just really need the public’s help.”
Anyone with information on Huertas’ murder should call Central Falls Police at (401) 727-7411 or the TIPS line at (401) 727-7420.