A man accused of using a BB gun to shoot out the window of a car traveling on a Southern California freeway was charged with three counts of attempted murder on Friday following a series of similar reported incidents in the area.
Additionally, Jesse Leal Rodriguez, 34, of Anaheim, was charged with three more counts of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury.
The charges involve three occupants of a Tesla that was shot at on the 91 Freeway about 1:30 pm on Tuesday, May 25, near Norco, about 30 miles east of Anaheim. Neither the driver of the Tesla nor the passengers were injured.
Rodriguez is currently charged with only attacking one car, but according to the Southern California News Group, investigators with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) believe Rodriguez “fired at and damaged at least six other vehicles.” CHP estimates approximately 100 vehicles have been shot at with a BB or pellet gun and vandalized while traveling on Southern California freeways over the past month. Many of those reported incidents occurred along Highway 91 in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside counties.
The Riverside County D.A.’s Office anticipates more charges could be filed against Rodriguez in the future as investigators and CHP continue to review leads and sift through videos from freeway cameras.
We have filed 3 counts of attempted murder against an Anaheim man for firing a BB gun at a moving vehicle. If you have information about these incidents or have been a victim & not reported it, call the CHP tip line at (714) 288-6336. News release here: https://t.co/eQsBJ2aN7a pic.twitter.com/wHVFENrap6
— Riverside County DA’s Office (@RivCoDA) May 28, 2021
“Shooting at moving vehicles with a BB gun or pellet gun while traveling at high speed on our roads or freeways is incredibly dangerous,” said Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin. “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.”
A journalist with the Southern California News Group interviewed Rodriguez from jail on Friday night, where he reportedly “emphatically denied that he committed any of the shootings.”
“Not one person has reported that they saw me shoot,” Rodriguez told the reporter from behind a glass partition that separated the two.
The Riverside County D.A. provided more details of Rodriguez’s arrest in a news release:
Around 1:30 p.m. on May 25, a Tesla was shot at with a BB gun in the area of Hamner Avenue and Hidden Valley Parkway in Norco. Captured on the vehicle’s video system at the time the vehicle’s window was shot out was a maroon Chevrolet Trailblazer. The incident was reported to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department which then notified CHP. There were two passengers with the driver of the Tesla, with all three being victims in this case.
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 in the area of Magnolia and Tyler avenues.
The driver, Rodriguez, was arrested and a BB gun, BBs, and other related items were found in his vehicle.
Rodriguez is being held at the Robert Presley Detention Center in Riverside on $750,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday, June 1. According to the district attorney’s office, “If convicted as currently charged, Rodriguez faces a potential maximum sentence of 15 years plus 42 years to life in prison.”
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