WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Police on Long Island say they have arrested two suspects after a love triangle murder-for-hire plot was thwarted when the alleged hit man had a change of heart.
Investigators said 40-year-old Herberth Hernandez was hired by 35-year-old Hamen Gonzales-Cruz to kill another man for $500 because Gonzales-Cruz was in an ongoing relationship with the victim’s girlfriend.
According to police, Gonzales-Cruz wanted the other man “out of the picture.”
“Gonzalez Cruz wanted the 30-year-old out of the picture because he was in an ongoing relationship with the victim’s girlfriend,” Vincent Garcia, Nassau County Police Department said.
Then around 3:15 p.m. on Monday, police said Hernandez confronted the man in front of Uptown Restaurant Grill on Prospect Avenue in Westbury.
Police said he pulled out a gun given to him by Gonzales-Cruz, but fired one shot in the air and another into the ground. Police said Hernandez had a change of heart and was unable to shoot the man.
“He fired two rounds, he fired into the ground and into the air. What his intent was is something that will come out in court,” Garcia said.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the victim was unscathed, the shooter was caught in the act, cops said.
Someone called 911 to report the incident and when officers arrived, police said they found Hernandez and Gonzales-Cruz behind an adjacent building, where Hernandez was seen dropping the gun.
Hernandez was taken into custody and the subsequent investigation led to the arrest of Gonzales-Cruz, police said.
Hernandez is charged with conspiracy, criminal possession of a weapon, reckless endangerment and other charges. Gonzales-Cruz is charged with conspiracy and criminal facilitation.
Both men pleaded not guilty in court.
“He denies ever attempting to hurt anyone,” Hernandez’s attorney, Adam Neal, told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “Denies any wrongdoing in relation to the allegations.”
A local pastor said the change of heart is evidence of a conscience.
“People can forgive and change their minds, people do change, so something happened inside the guy who decided not to take the life of the other guy,” Pastor Robert Collado said.
Hernandez was held on $400,000 bond while Gonzales-Cruz was held on $225,000 bond.