2 Killed, 1 Hurt in Riverside Shooting

Times Staff Writers

Road rage apparently led to a shooting on the Riverside Freeway on Sunday night that left two men dead and another wounded, authorities said.

"Based on our preliminary investigation, this appears to be a road-rage incident; something happened on the road to set [the shooter] off," Riverside police spokesman Steven Frasher said.

About 8 p.m., the gunman, driving a large, light-colored sedan and accompanied by a woman, fired into a car carrying four men in their late 20s.

The vehicles were heading east at the speed limit and had just passed the Madison Street exit in Riverside.

The gunman leaned across the passenger seat to fire several shots into the white 1984 BMW, police said.

The driver of the BMW was shot in the arm but managed to pull off the freeway at Arlington Avenue to call for help at a gas station, police said.

Passenger Joel Rios, 26, of Moreno Valley was declared dead at the scene at 8:07 p.m. Another man in the BMW died at Riverside Community Hospital at 8:30 p.m.

His identity and age are being withheld by the Riverside County coroner's office.

The driver was treated and released Monday from Riverside Community Hospital, and the fourth man in the car was uninjured. Officials are not releasing either man's name or age.

Authorities shut down all but one lane on the freeway until midnight as investigators scoured the area.

Three of the BMW's occupants lived in Anaheim and were dropping off Rios in Moreno Valley, Frasher said.

Investigators are looking into whether the shooting was spurred when the BMW driver made several "sloppy lane changes," Frasher said.

There is no indication that the shooter knew the victims, that the incident was gang-related or that alcohol was a factor, he said.

Police interviews with the BMW's surviving occupants netted little information, Frasher said, and no witnesses have emerged.

"We're asking for any assistance from the community," Frasher said. "We think there's somebody somewhere who saw something of some sort on the freeway."

This is the first freeway shooting in the area since Ricky Smith, 32, was killed in April on the Pomona Freeway near downtown Riverside.

Smith's death came amid several Southland freeway killings, mainly in Los Angeles and Orange counties.

Anyone with information about Sunday's incident is asked to call Riverside Police Det. Mike Medici at (951) 320-8049.

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