Local News

American dream of home ownership starts with nightmare shooting in Durham

Posted January 15, 2019 11:16 p.m. EST

— A Durham family's dream of being new home owners became a nightmare when the family's father was shot just hours after he and his wife closed on their new house during a robbery and shooting in their front yard.

The incident occurred earlier this month in the Joyland section of Durham, a neighborhood of green grass, basketball goals and the home to lots of families.

Isidro Contreras-Hernandez and his wife, Alba Hernandez-Diaz, became new homeowners after signing the paperwork that accompanies residential ownership.

"The house had a lot of space and a lot of privacy," said wife Alba, while speaking through an interpreter. "And there was a lot of space for my kids to play outside."

The couple is from Mexico and the two have been living in the U.S. for two decades.

Contreras-Hernandez is self-employed as a commercial and residential painter.

The couple has two kids: a 13-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son who is on a full scholarship at Appalachian State University.

On the night of Jan. 9, hours after signing the papers, Contreras-Hernandez went to the house to check on some leaky valves.

Two men wearing wearing masks robbed him,

Police say he threw the robbers his wallet and cell phone, but they still shot him once in his side.

"I just keep wondering why someone would want to do this," said Alba Hernandez-Diaz. "He's a very good person (and) a very good worker. He's always fought for our family to give us the best he can."

The real estate agent had worked with the family for five months during a search for a new home.

"We had looked at so many houses," said Ann Rodriguez.

She recalls the family being outbid in the competitive real estate market that exists in the Triangle.

But they finally found a house on a cul-de-sac near Holloway Street in Durham.

"It was the greatest feeling," Alba Hernandez-Diaz said.

The couple had to draw up several fix-up plans before move-in day, including a new paint job.

Said Rodriguez: "This was their American dream, to own a house. And they fell victim."

She has launched a GoFundMe page for the family.

Alba Hernandez-Diaz said she doesn't yet know if her new house can still be home after the violent attack.

She says her only dream now is for her husband to return home.