Suspect in BB gun shooting on 91 Freeway charged with attempted murder
An Anaheim man was charged with three counts of attempted murder Friday in connection with a BB gun shooting on the 91 Freeway, where recently there have been a rash of such shootings across the region, authorities said.
Jesse Leal Rodriguez, 34, also was charged with three counts of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, Riverside County Dist. Atty. Mike Hestrin said in a statement.
“Shooting at moving vehicles with a BB gun or pellet gun while traveling at high speed on our roads or freeways is incredibly dangerous,” Hestrin said. “Shooting out windows of cars could easily startle drivers in traffic and cause a major accident. We are all relieved that no one was seriously injured by these crimes.”
The charges involve three occupants of a vehicle that was shot at on Tuesday, authorities said. Rodriguez is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday. If convicted of all charges, he faces a sentence of 90 years to life in prison, the district attorney said.
Rodriguez was arrested Wednesday morning after motorists in the Riverside area reported being shot at the night before. He was booked into the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside and is being held on $750,000 bail, arrest records show.
California Highway Patrol is investigating about 100 similar shootings across Southern California, which began in late April and have targeted motorists from Cerritos to Riverside.
Since Rodriguez was taken into custody, there have been no additional confirmed shootings, said Officer Dan Olivas of the CHP’s Inland Empire Division.
It hasn’t been determined if Rodriguez was involved in additional attacks.
“The investigation is still ongoing,” Olivas said Friday. “[Investigators] are trying to follow up on some other leads.”
Around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, a Tesla was shot at with a BB gun in the area of Hamner Avenue and Hidden Valley Parkway in Norco. A maroon Chevrolet Trailblazer was captured by the car’s video system when its window was shot out, according to the district attorney’s office.
The incident was reported to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, which then notified CHP. There were two passengers in the Tesla, as well as the driver.
Based on the vehicle description provided by witnesses, CHP officers, assisted by Riverside police, pulled over a maroon Chevrolet Trailblazer about 9:30 p.m. in a shopping center parking lot near Magnolia and Tyler avenues.
The driver, Rodriguez, was arrested and a BB gun, BBs, and other related items were found in his vehicle, according to the district attorney.
Rodriguez has a prior record of firearms convictions. In 2010, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to a felony charge for illegally carrying a loaded firearm and being part of street gang. He was sentenced to 16 months in state prison and a three-year probation, according to court records.
In December 2012, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to possessing a firearm by a felon with a gang enhancement. In April 2013, he was sentenced to 32 months in state prison.
Last week, as the reports of window shootings became a tidal wave, the CHP began a widespread, coordinated investigation across three counties and revealed the suspect or suspects were firing from a vehicle. The assailants had taken dozens of shots at vehicles on the 91 Freeway in Orange and Riverside counties.
Olivas said the agency has dealt with such shootings with BB and pellet guns, but not with such high frequency or with so many hot spots.
No serious injuries have resulted from the shootings, but they’ve terrified motorists and long baffled authorities. For weeks, victims — traveling at highway speeds when targeted — were unable to provide suspect information to authorities.
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