Three dead after Independence home invasion

An Independence woman and her adult son were among three people shot to death in a Friday morning home invasion attack.

A fourth person was wounded and reported to be in critical condition at a hospital, Independence police said.

The 4:30 a.m. attack in the 1500 block of South Pope Avenue involved two armed men and possibly a third. Police said they believe it was not a random attack.

“It appears to be a home invasion with the intent to commit a robbery,” said Independence Police Capt. John Cato. “All indications are that they knew each other.”

Police identified those killed as Maria Hernandez, 48; her son, Antonio Hernandez, 20; and Thomas or Tomas Madrigal, who was the boyfriend of Maria Hernandez. Police did not have his age.

The identity and age of the wounded victim was not released.

Police said they were told that Maria Hernandez was the mother of six children, some of whom are adults. Cato said he did not know how many people resided at her home or how many were inside at the time of the attack.

According to neighbors, a teenager who lived at the house ran to a neighbor’s house to call police after the shooting.

Police described one gunman as a light-skinned Hispanic man with light-colored hair and a stocky build. He was wearing predominantly all red clothing and red gloves. A second gunman wore mostly dark clothing and had his face covered. The third possible gunman had on red pants and a dark jacket, Cato said. Police did not have a description of any vehicle that may have been used.

People who live nearby in the neighborhood of modest one-story wood frame homes situated east of Noland Road and south of 23rd Street said the family had moved into the home less than a year ago.

Throughout the day Friday, as crime scene investigators gathered evidence and processed the crime scene, a steady stream of people in vehicles and on foot passed by on the narrow streets clogged with police and media vehicles.

“I woke up this morning to all of this,” one neighbor said, gesturing at all of the activity.

The man, who asked that his name not be used because the gunmen were still at large, said the neighborhood had never seen any similar violent crime in the 25 years he has lived there.

Since the victims’ family had moved into the house, he said that there has been a constant stream of people to and from the residence.

“There was a lot of traffic,” he said. “It seemed to be mostly teenaged kids.”

Another neighbor said she did not know the family but believed they had moved into the house this summer.

“They put up a swimming pool in the backyard for the kids on the Fourth of July,” said the woman, who also asked that she not be identified because the gunmen remained free.

She said a “lot of people” appeared to live at the house.

The woman said she was awakened about the time of the shooting Friday morning by a “loud banging.” She couldn’t say if it sounded like gunshots.

“It woke me up from a dead sleep,” she said.