A 34-year-old man suspected in a road rage highway shooting directed at an off-duty police officer who returned fire was being held Monday in lieu of $1 million bail.
Keith Frederick Prante of Mission Viejo was arrested Sunday and booked into the Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta on suspicion of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and brandishing a firearm.
Shortly before 8 p.m. Saturday, the victim, identified only as an off-duty San Bernardino police officer, was going east on the Ortega (74) Highway, approaching Decker Canyon Road near Lake Elsinore, when Prante abruptly stopped directly in front of him, blocking his path along the narrow two-lane corridor, according to California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Lassig.
Lassig alleged that Prante leaned out of his vehicle with a pistol in hand and opened fire on the driver’s side of the victim’s car. However, none of the bullets penetrated the windshield.
The suspect then sped away, but traveled only a couple of miles before pulling over to the shoulder of the highway, according to Lassig.
The victim spotted Prante and, “fearing for his safety, stopped just west of the suspect’s location,” the CHP officer said. “The victim observed the suspect produce a handgun out the driver’s side window and begin to reverse towards the victim’s location. The victim, fearing for his life, fired a handgun … towards the suspect.”
No one was injured.
Lassig alleged that Prante immediately drove away, heading into Lake Elsinore, and the off-duty policeman trailed him at a safe distance, making a note of the license plate on the suspect’s vehicle, which soon disappeared from view.
The officer called 911, and CHP officers and Riverside County sheriff’s deputies quickly converged on the area.
Lassig said Prante was identified as the alleged shooter, and his whereabouts were confirmed the following morning, at which point he was taken into custody without incident.
The circumstances behind the alleged attack remains under investigation.
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