An Anaheim man was charged with three counts of attempted murder on Friday in connection with a shot from a pellet pistol on Highway 91, where there have recently been a series of such detonations throughout the region, authorities said.
Jesse Leal Rodriguez, 34, was also charged with three counts of assault by means that can cause serious bodily injury, Riverside District Attorney Mike Hestrin said in a statement.
“Shooting moving vehicles with a pellet gun while traveling at high speed on our roads or highways is incredibly dangerous,” Hestrin noted. “Shooting out of car windows could easily scare drivers in traffic and cause a serious accident. We are all relieved that no one was seriously injured by these crimes. “
The charges involve three occupants of a vehicle who were shot Tuesday, authorities added. Rodriguez is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday. If convicted of all charges, he faces a 90-year sentence to life in prison, the district attorney stressed.
Rodriguez was arrested Wednesday morning after motorists in the Riverside area reported they were shot the night before. He was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in that county and is being held on $ 750,000 bond, arrest records show.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is investigating about 100 similar shootings in the southern state, which began in late April and have targeted motorists from Cerritos to Riverside.
Since Rodriguez was detained, there have been no more confirmed shots, said Officer Dan Olivas of the CHP Inland Empire Division.
It has not been determined whether he was involved in additional attacks.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” Olivas explained on Friday. “[Los investigadores] they’re trying to follow up on other leads. “
Around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, a Tesla was shot with a pellet gun in the area of Hamner Avenue and Hidden Valley Parkway in Norco. A brown Chevrolet Trailblazer was captured by the car’s video system when it was shot through the window, according to the district attorney’s office.
The incident was reported to the Riverside Sheriff’s Department, which then notified CHP. There were two passengers in the Tesla, in addition to the driver.
According to the description of the vehicle provided by witnesses, CHP officers, assisted by Riverside police, stopped a brown Chevrolet Trailblazer around 9:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a shopping center near Magnolia and Tyler avenues.
The driver, Rodriguez, was arrested and a pellet gun, ammunition and other related items were found in his vehicle, according to the district attorney.
The suspect has a history of firearm convictions. In 2010, Rodríguez pleaded guilty to a felony for illegally carrying a loaded firearm and being part of a street gang. He was sentenced to 16 months in state prison and granted a three-year probation, according to court records.
In December 2012, Rodríguez pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm. In April 2013, he was sentenced to 32 months in state prison.
Last week, when reports of window shootings escalated into a tsunami, the CHP launched a coordinated and widespread investigation in three counties and revealed that the suspect or suspects were firing from a vehicle. The assailants had detonated their weapons in dozens of vehicles on Highway 91 in Orange and Riverside counties.
Olivas stressed that the agency has dealt with such shootings with pellet and pellet guns in the past, but not as often or with so many hot spots.
There were no serious injuries as a result of the shooting, but they have long terrorized motorists and puzzled authorities. For weeks, the victims, who were traveling at highway speeds when attacked, were unable to provide information about the suspect to authorities.
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This article was first published in Los Angeles Times in Spanish.