ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, and Dominique Giroux, Acting Inspector in Charge of the Phoenix Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and Raul Bujanda, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Albuquerque Field Office, announced today that Xavier Zamora was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the murder of U.S. Postal Service Letter Carrier José Hernandez in 2019. Zamora, 21, of Albuquerque, pled guilty on June 8, 2022, to second degree murder of an employee of the United States and using a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death.
According to court records, on April 22, 2019, Hernandez was delivering mail to a community mailbox on Terracotta Place SW in Albuquerque when he was caught up in a dispute between Zamora and his mother outside her home. The quarrel between mother and son escalated and, when Hernandez attempted to intervene, Zamora became belligerent and attempted to instigate a fight with Hernandez, striking him and pushing him down before running back to the house when Hernandez advanced towards him. Inside the house, Zamora retrieved a handgun from the home and returned outside where he followed Hernandez back to his postal unit. When Hernandez turned to face Zamora, Zamora shot Hernandez in the stomach from a distance, and Hernandez collapsed near his vehicle. Zamora then retreated back to the house before fleeing through the backyard.
Neighbors quickly moved to render aid to Hernandez while first responders from the Albuquerque Police Department, who were unaware Zamora had fled, did their best to assist and protect bystanders from the imminent threat of gunfire from inside the home. Despite the heroic efforts of civilians, law enforcement officers and emergency personnel, Hernandez died from extensive internal bleeding 20 minutes after being shot by Zamora.
Police found Zamora hiding out a few days later in a home about five minutes from where Hernandez was shot. The firearm used in the murder has never been located.
Hernandez was a husband, a father of four, a son, and a United States Army combat veteran who served his country honorably and sought to live his life as a positive member of the community. Other Letter Carriers described Hernandez as someone with an outgoing personality, who liked to joke, had a loud laugh, one who did not talk negatively about others, and who loved to listen to music. In his public life, he was known as a Disk Jockey (“DJ”); a Hot Wheels, Avengers and DC Comic collector; and a superhero movie and Star Wars fan. In his private life, Hernandez believed in the sanctity of family, and the respect one must show to others. On his phone, he kept pictures of his family and friends, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints resource materials to support his personal and family scripture studies.
“José Hernandez died protecting someone he did not know because he believed that every member of our community deserves to live in safety,” said U.S. Attorney Alexander Uballez. “Today, we pay homage to his sacrifice, and the daily service of our Postal Carriers. In honor of José, we will know no strangers, we will tolerate no bullies, and we will work together to bring safety to our community.”
“U.S. Postal Service letter carriers are public servants, bringing American citizens their mail each day,” said Acting Inspector in Charge Dominique Giroux. “With violent crime increasing across the country, rest assured the U.S. Postal Inspection Service remains committed to investigating and bringing to justice every person who harms our employees. This significant sentence takes violent offender Xavier Zamora off the street and hopefully provides some peace to the Hernandez family. We are grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners who assisted on this case.”
“Far too many of us have felt this loss within our agencies,” said FBI Albuquerque Special Agent in Charge Raul Bujanda. “The impact and pain extend beyond the agency and the family; it extends to the community. Even more so when the individual is part of the fabric of the nation making a difference in every community across this country. On behalf of the Hernandez family and others suffering from the loss of a family member to violent crime, the FBI will continue to work in partnership with local, state, tribal and federal partners to ensure offenders like Xavier Zamora are brought to justice.”
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated this case with assistance from the FBI Albuquerque Field Office, Albuquerque Police Department and New Mexico State Police. Assistant United States Attorneys Niki Tapia-Brito and Eva M. Fontanez are prosecuting the case.