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Man charged in BB gun shooting case is suspected in six more cases, authorities say

Mugshot of Jesse Leal Rodriguez
Booking photo of Jesse Leal Rodriguez.
(Riverside County district attorney)

Authorities have expanded their investigation of an Anaheim man charged with attempted murder in the firing of a BB gun at a Tesla in Norco last week, saying the man is now a suspect in at least six other similar cases and possibly more.

Jesse Leal Rodriguez, 34, has so far been charged with only the incident involving the Tesla, and on Tuesday he pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and assault charges at an arraignment hearing in Riverside County, where his bail was set at $1 million.

The California Highway Patrol is investigating Rodriguez in at least six more shooting incidents, according to a declaration filed on Friday in support of enhanced bail provided by CHP Officer Steven Cuevas. Rodriguez’s arrest last week came amid a spate of about 100 similar shootings across Southern California, which began in late April and have targeted motorists from Cerritos to Riverside. No serious injuries have resulted from the shootings.

“Rodriguez is suspected of 7 cases of firing a BB gun at occupied vehicles while those vehicles were being driven,” Cuevas wrote. “Rodriguez was in possession of a BB gun and his vehicle was identified. Numerous CHP areas are currently investigating well over 100 similar incidents, some of which could possibly be linked to Rodriguez.”

Last week, Rodriguez was charged with three counts of attempted murder and assault in connection with the alleged shooting of the Tesla, which was carrying a driver and two passengers.

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Around 1:30 p.m. last Tuesday, the 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.

CHP later pulled over a maroon Trailblazer at about 9:30 p.m. in a shopping center parking lot. 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 a street gang. He was sentenced to 16 months in state prison and three years 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.


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