Death of victim in Joliet Township Halloween party shooting deemed a homicide, police say

Sergio Hernandez

Last year’s death of a Joliet gang member who was the target of 2021 shooting at a Halloween party has been deemed a homicide, a Will County sheriff’s deputy chief said.

The Will County Sheriff’s Office learned on Thursday from the DuPage County Coroner’s Office about the cause and manner of 20-year-old Sergio Hernandez’s death, according to Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dan Jungles.

Hernandez’s death was deemed a homicide and the cause of death was listed as chronic respiratory failure, quadriplegia – or paralysis – and gunshot wound to shoulder, Jungles said.

Hernandez had been hospitalized for injuries he suffered in the Oct. 31, 2021 shooting at a residence at 1018 E. Jackson St. in Joliet Township.

Jungles said Hernandez was paralyzed from the neck down as a result of the shooting.

Hernandez was at The Grove of Elmhurst in Elmhurst and then taken to Elmhurst Memorial Hospital when he was found unresponsive on Oct. 30, Jungles said. He was pronounced dead at 8:18 a.m. on that day.

Jungles said since the sheriff’s office obtained the DuPage County Coroner’s Office documents on Thursday, they will reach out to the state’s attorney’s office to advise them of the findings.

The Will County State’s Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Thursday. Calls and a message to the DuPage County Coroner’s Office was not returned.

It’s possible the ruling on Hernandez’s death could lead to upgraded charges against Joskar Ramos, 19, Thomas Lopez, 22, and his brother Jeremy Lopez, 20.

All three men have been charged with the attempted murder of Hernandez.

Ramos and the Lopez brothers also face charges for the murder of Holly Mathews, and Jonathan Ceballos, both 22. Mathews and Ceballos were caught in the shooting between members of the Latin King and Vice Lord gangs.

Jungles said Hernandez was the target in a shooting at a Halloween party attended by about 200 people on Oct. 31, 2021, at a residence at 1018 E. Jackson St. in Joliet Township.

Hernandez was a member of the Latin Kings gang, and Ramos and the Lopez brothers are members of the Vice Lords gang, Jungles said. The Latin Kings and Vice Lords are two of the four major gangs that have been known to operate in Joliet since the 1980s.