Rogers Park murder was a robbery among ‘friends’ that ‘went sideways,’ prosecutors say

A man who was murdered in Rogers Park this spring was targeted by three of his own friends, including one who was accidentally hit by bullets intended for him, prosecutors said Wednesday. The gunman and one accomplice remain at large, but murder and robbery charges were filed today against the third man, 20-year-old Isaiah Cardona.

Cardona was shot three times during the incident, which left Julbert Hernandez, 21, dead in the 7400 block of North Wolcott shortly after midnight on May 3. Hernandez suffered 18 gunshot wounds, including two to his head, four to his chest, and six in his back, officials said.

When police first responded to the scene, they found Hernandez slumped over in the driver’s seat of his car. However, Cardona emerged from a nearby gangway a short time later with gunshot wounds to his arm and leg and a grazing wound to his torso.

Isaiah Cardona | CPD

According to Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak, Cardona initially told police that he didn’t know Hernandez and that he was shot while attempting to break up a fight between Hernandez and a stranger.

As Cardona sat in a grassy area, police noticed that a wallet and phone had appeared next to him in the grass—a spot that was clear before he sat down, according to Hanichak. The phone and wallet belonged to Hernandez.

Investigators found CHA surveillance video that contradicted Cardona’s story, Hanichak said.

The footage showed Hernandez, Cardona, and two others hanging out in the area, going for a ride in Hernandez’s car, and then returning. Hanichak explained that after getting out of the vehicle, the offender who would eventually shoot Hernandez began fighting with Hernandez. Cardona was seen chasing Hernandez, who had literally run out of his shoes.

As Cardona chased Hernandez back toward the car, the man who had been fighting Hernandez put on a black mask and began shooting, hitting both Cardona and Hernandez, according to Hanichak.

The gunman and the fourth offender ran into the CHA building. Hanichak said they both live there. Meanwhile, Hernandez collapsed in his car.

Investigators found Facebook messages from one of the at-large suspects that said the shooting was a robbery that “went sideways,” Hanichak alleged.

Cardona allegedly gave conflicting stories to detectives but admitted to being at the scene and taking Hernandez’s wallet and phone. He has no criminal convictions.

His public defender pushed back against the state’s request to hold Cardona without bail, arguing that Cardona never had a gun, the Facebook messages were not from him, and Cardona may have taken Hernandez’s phone and wallet for safekeeping.

But Judge Susana Ortiz was unmoved. She granted the no bail petition.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com