By Dana Feldman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A suspected serial killer linked to a spate of apparently random Los Angeles-area shootings, four of them fatal, made his first court appearance on Wednesday and was ordered held without bond until an arraignment set for next month.
Alexander Hernandez, 34, said little during the brief proceeding before a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, except to reply: "Yes, sir," and "Yes," when asked if he understood his rights in having the arraignment postponed until Sept. 17.
Shackled at the waist and wearing a yellow prison shirt and blue pants, he stood in a caged area of the courtroom, his head shaved and wearing a mustache and goatee.
He did not enter a plea, and his lawyer declined to speak to the media following the court session.
First identified as a suspect by animal cruelty investigators in connection with the weekend shooting of three dogs, Hernandez was arrested on Sunday after an hourlong standoff with police at his home in the city's San Fernando Valley area.
He was charged on Tuesday with murder in the drive-by shooting of a 48-year-old man slain behind the wheel of his pickup truck en route to work in the valley last Thursday.
Hernandez was also charged with two counts of attempted murder for allegedly opening fire on a husband and wife in their vehicle in West Hollywood last Friday. They were unhurt in the attack.
In addition, police said Hernandez was suspected in the shotgun slayings of three people who were ambushed within a single hour on Sunday - a 23-year-old woman driving to church with her family, a 29-year-old man walking outside a recreation center, and a 59-year-old woman waiting for a friend before church.
The parents of the 23-year-old victim were critically wounded in Sunday's first attack, police said.
More investigation is needed into Sunday's shootings before authorities are ready to bring formal charges in those cases, detectives said.
Police say Hernandez is believed to have acted alone, did not appear to know any of his victims and had no apparent motive for the killings. Detectives also have been looking into whether he may have ties to other unsolved shootings in the region that bear similarities to ones of which is accused.
(Reporting by Dana Feldman; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Peter Cooney)