RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A 34-year-old man is under investigation in connection with a series of BB gun shootings that have shattered windows of about 100 vehicles on Southern California freeways, authorities said.
Jesse Leal Rodriguez was arrested late Tuesday in Riverside after drivers along State Route 91 reported shots from a red sport utility vehicle. Riverside police and California Highway Patrol officers apprehended Rodriguez in a red Chevrolet Trailblazer at a shopping center.
Rodriguez was booked for investigation of assault with a deadly weapon and negligent discharge of a firearm.
“Further investigation is actively being conducted to confirm if this individual is the suspect associated with the recent series of BB gun incidents that have been occurring in Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties,” the CHP said in a statement Wednesday.
Online records showed Thursday he was being held in a Riverside County jail and faced a court hearing Friday. It was not immediately known if the Anaheim resident had an attorney.
Dozens of attacks have occurred in recent weeks, largely along State Route 91 in Riverside and Orange counties, but also along the 5, 105 and 55 freeways.
One of the victims, Don Pettinger, said he heard “an explosion — like a bang” in the rear of his car.
“Then I started hearing glass shattering and falling,” Pettinger told ABC 7. “So I checked my mirrors and figured I was possibly the next victim being shot at.”
The arrest came after at least three shootings were reported Tuesday on the 91 and 15 freeways, the news station said.
No serious injuries have been reported.
“We’re very fortunate that up until this point, it didn’t end in someone getting hurt. This definitely had the potential for it,” CHP Officer Ramon Duran said.
The back window of a CHP cruiser was damaged May 14 along the 91 freeway in Anaheim Hills, though it wasn’t known if it was caused by a BB or pellet gun, CHP spokesman Officer Florentino Olivera said at the time.
In response, the CHP boosted patrols in the area, the Orange County Register reported.
In many cases, the victims heard a noise before realizing one of their windows had been shot. In at least one case, a driver saw a flash before his windshield sustained damage, the newspaper said.