Charges could be filed Friday against a 34-year-old Anaheim man possibly involved in a rash of attacks involving BBs or pellets shot through vehicles’ windows on freeways in Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties.
“Our investigators are aware of the time sensitivity, and they’ll finish whatever they need to before they present the case to the District Attorney’s Office,” California Highway Patrol Border Division spokesman Officer Jake Sanchez told City News Service.
“It’s a complicated case, so they’re likely spending extra time on it.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office was waiting to review the allegations against Jesse Leal Rodriguez of Anaheim, who remains behind bars in Riverside.
“We will review the case once we receive it from the CHP,” DA’s office spokesman John Hall told CNS. “The decision (on whether to file a criminal complaint) may not happen until Friday.”
The window to file charges closes Friday because of the suspect’s right to a speedy arraignment.
Rodriguez was arrested Tuesday night and booked into the Robert Presley Jail in Riverside on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon and reckless discharge of a weapon. He’s being held in lieu of $750,000 bail.
“I commend the diligent efforts of our investigators, who continue to dedicate countless hours to locate the person or persons believed responsible for the senseless shootings … on Southern California freeways the past couple of months,” CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said. “The CHP takes incidents of highway violence very seriously and actively investigates each one.”
The agency is continuing to investigate whether Rodriguez was one of the perpetrators, or the sole party involved, in more than 100 attacks on the Riverside (91) Freeway and other corridors in Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties.
No attacks were reported Thursday, according to Sanchez.
Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback said patrol officers stopped the suspect near the Galleria at Tyler shopping mall about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday “based on information the CHP broadcast to our officers about another shooting incident that may have occurred along the freeway in Riverside.”
Railsback said that after Rodriguez was detained by Riverside police, he was turned over to the CHP for questioning.
Authorities said a vehicle window was blasted about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday on the 91 near Pierce Street, and the driver was able to give law enforcement a vehicle description — a red SUV with no license plates. A short time later, another person whose vehicle came under fire gave authorities the same description, and officers located the SUV at the shopping mall.
The CHP estimates the number of incidents in which cars have been damaged by BB or pellet gun fire exceeds 100. It is unclear how many perpetrators there are, whether some are copycats, and what types of cars they’re driving, though white sedans were spotted in attacks earlier this month in Corona.
No one has been injured in the window-shattering attacks.
On Tuesday, three incidents were reported, including an 8 a.m. shooting on the westbound 91 in Riverside County that blew out the driver’s window.
Also on Tuesday, a vehicle was damaged about 6 a.m. on the southbound Costa Mesa (55) Freeway, north of Fourth Street in Santa Ana, and another shooting occurred about 7 a.m. on the Santa Ana (5) Freeway in Irvine, according to the CHP.
Investigators have asked victims to call 911 immediately because it can help locate where and when the cases are happening, using clues found by checking Caltrans cameras along the freeways. The CHP has boosted patrols and may be a short distance away and have a better chance of capturing a potential suspect if the call is made right away.
A CHP officer’s cruiser recently sustained a damaged window on the eastbound 91 at the 241 Tollway in Anaheim Hills that may have been part of the crime spree.
“An officer was finishing up an enforcement stop and completing notes on the citation when he heard a noise and the back window was shattered. There were big rigs going by at the same time,” so it might have been a rock that caused the damage, CHP Officer Florentino Olivera said earlier. “We’re not sure what shattered the window.”