An 18-year-old high school student was allegedly so upset after finding out a woman he went home with was transgender that he killed her.
Even after firing his gun twice at Selena Reyes-Hernandez, Orlando Perez confessed to detectives that he went back to Reyes-Hernandez’s Marquette Park residence a second time so he could shoot her lifeless body again, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday.
Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office identified Reyes-Hernandez by her birth name, but prosecutors said she preferred to go by the first name of Selena.
Although they lived blocks apart, there was no indication Perez and 37-year-old Reyes-Hernandez knew each other before they were seen on video surveillance returning to Reyes-Hernandez’s home together around 5:30 a.m. on May 31, prosecutors said.
Perez allegedly told detectives during a video-recorded statement that while inside, he asked Reyes-Hernandez if she was a girl. When she said she was trans, he told her he had to leave.
Surveillance cameras show Perez leaving 20 minutes later, and then returning around 6 a.m. with a dark face covering, prosecutors said. The video allegedly shows Perez take out a handgun and rack the slide as he approaches Reyes-Hernandez’s home in the 3300 block of West 71st Street.
Perez was also recorded hopping over the gate to Reyes-Hernandez’s home and then leaving again minutes later, prosecutors said. Perez allegedly told detectives after finding the victim’s door open, he walked in and shot her in the head and back.
“He thought that was enough so he ran out. But he kept seeing her face, so he went back there to do it again,” Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said during Perez’s bond hearing.
Perez shot Reyes-Hernandez’s body several more times while she lay face down on the floor, prosecutors said. A witness who heard loud noises later discovered Reyes-Hernandez’s body later that morning.
A gun with the same type of bullets that were used in the murder was found at Perez’s home, prosecutors said.
While Perez admitted to moving Reyes-Hernandez’s car after the murder, saying that he knew the “police would be tracking the car,” multiple video surveillance cameras show him coming and going to the scene of the crime, Murphy said.
Reyes-Hernandez’s phone also had a video clip that first showed Reyes-Hernandez on the front-facing camera and then Perez in a bathroom washing his hands when the view was switched to the rear camera, Murphy said.
Perez was arrested Sunday at his Marquette Park home.
Reyes-Hernandez’s murder took place during the height of the George Floyd protests here and across the nation that drew attention to the violence and discrimination faced by African Americans as well as queer and transgender people of color.
The fatal shooting also took place on the deadliest day of gun violence in the city in six decades with 18 people murdered within a 24 hour period.
During his court appearance Tuesday, Perez lowered his face mask, smiled several times and tried to give a statement, but he was warned not to speak by his assistant public defender.
Perez has no other criminal record and has had summer jobs at a factory in Chicago that makes jelly, the assistant public defender said.
Judge Arthur Wesley Willis ordered Perez held without bail and set his next court date for July 6.
Editors’ note: An earlier version of this story included Selena Reyes-Hernandez’s birth name as it was provided by police and the medical examiner’s office. We have updated the story to remove that reference.