FRESNO, CA – The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has caught the men responsible for the killing of 23-year-old Bradley Smith COVIS on Sunday.
Deputies have arrested 30-year-old Elvis Hernandez of Reedley for shooting and killing Smith. Hernandez has been booked into the Fresno County Jail. He is facing a charge of involuntary manslaughter. His bail is set at $10,000. He has since posted bond and been released from custody.
Shortly before 10:30 pm on Sunday, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a person being shot and seriously injured. Deputies were dispatched to a home on the 28000 block of Burrough Valley Road in Tollhouse. EMS gave the caller instructions on CPR and he began to perform the procedure on the victim while deputies were on their way. Deputies and EMS personnel arrived and took over medical care, however, the victim died a short time later. Deputies detained the two men at the scene and requested homicide detectives respond to begin an investigation.
Homicide detectives interviewed the two men at the home, 30-year-old Elvis Hernandez and for privacy purposes in this story, the other man will be referred to by a fake name of Tim. Both Elvis and Tim fully cooperated during the investigation and gave the same account of what took place.
The three men, who are friends, were hanging out at a house drinking alcohol. They later started handling firearms that a relative was storing at the home. Tim eventually went to bed. Elvis and Bradly discovered some rubber bullets and thought it would be funny to use a shotgun to shoot Tim while he was sleeping. They threw a mattress on top of Tim and shot the mattress. This startled Tim, causing him to wake up. He was not seriously injured. Bradly agreed that as payback, Tim could shoot him. Bradly put on a military-style helmet and protective vest. Tim pointed a shotgun and fired a rubber bullet at Elvis, striking him. Bradly then told Elvis he could shoot him as well. Elvis picked up a different shotgun than the one Tim used and fired it at Bradly, hitting him in the upper body. They quickly realized Bradly was bleeding and seriously hurt, so they dialed 911.
Detectives discovered Bradly had not been struck by a rubber bullet, but by a round of buckshot (#00 buck). It appears the men mistakenly loaded this type of lethal shell into the shotgun.
This is a tragedy, but it is one that was completely preventable. The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind the public of the importance of firearms safety. No one should ever point a gun at another person unless they or another person’s life is in danger. Regardless of whether the gun is real or fake, loaded or unloaded, everyone should treat firearms with respect and never handle them in a negligent manner. For more information on gun safety, visit https://gunsafetyrules.nra.org/