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Suspect in Christmas Eve homicide nabbed this morning

Michael Rodriguez, 25, was caught up at 2 a.m. this morning by Yakima police in a net cast by Sunnyside police following the shooting death last Saturday, Christmas Eve, of Rosendo Barron Hernandez, 29, of Sunnyside.

Sunnyside police put out the alert on Rodriguez, a suspect in the killing, after he ran from them Sunday night about 11 p.m.

"The patrol officers got a report of a person with a gun at 9th and Harrison (the area where Hernandez had been shot the day before)," said Det. Sgt. Jeff Cunningham. "The officers found three males driving through the area. The officers attempted to stop them and the vehicle pulled into a residence and the driver, who was Michael Rodriguez, ran from the scene.

"The officers took the other two into custody and, through information obtained during questioning, we came to believe Rodriguez was the one responsible (for shooting Hernandez)."

One of the men taken into custody Sunday evening has been released. The other, also considered a suspect, is being held, according to Cunningham.

"The vehicle in which they were riding was stolen out of Yakima," said Cunningham, adding that a firearm and ammunition had been recovered from the vehicle, which was released to the impound yard after it was searched.

At 10 a.m. this morning, Cunningham and Sgts. Jim Ortiz and Jim Orth were in Yakima to attend the autopsy of Hernandez's body. Cunningham said the autopsy could tell them whether a gun of the same caliber as that found in the stolen vehicle Sunday night was used to kill Hernandez.

According to Cunningham, the victim and the suspect were both members of gangs in Sunnyside

called Norteno (North) and Sureno (South).

Hernandez was shot at the intersection of 9th Street and Harrison Avenue in Sunnyside on Saturday. His body was found by Sgt. Preston Kelley and Officer Jaime Prieto, who were responding to a call at 10:37 p.m., reporting gunfire and shells fired into a residence.

One bullet did hit a house, whose residents are relatives of Hernandez, but he was the intended target and the bullet hitting the house was a stray, according to Cunningham. No one inside the house was injured.

"Recovered from the victim were numerous items of mail from different addresses in the area and in the state, along with a large number of identifications from people from at least three states," said Cunningham.

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