Prosecutors have charged a man in connection with a BB gun shooting that damaged a Tesla in Norco earlier this week, prosecutors announced Friday.
Jesse Leal Rodriguez, 34, of Anaheim faces three counts of attempted murder and three counts of assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury, according to a news release from the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office.
“Shooting at moving vehicles with a BB gun or pellet gun while traveling at high speed on our roads or freeways is incredibly dangerous,” Riverside County DA Mike Hestrin stated in the release. “Shooting out windows of cars could easily startle drivers in traffic and cause a major accident.”
Because Rodriguez has a prior “strike” conviction, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years plus 42 years to life in prison, if found guilty on all charges, prosecutors said. They corrected previous information that the potential maximum sentence could be up to 90 years to life in prison.
The defendant’s arraignment is scheduled to take place Tuesday.
Rodriguez is suspected of shooting at Tesla with a BB gun and shattering its window in the area of Hamner Avenue and Hidden Valley Parkway around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, in an incident that was captured on the electric vehicle’s video system, according to a DA’s news release.
Three people were inside the car at the time, but none of them were injured.
The California Highway Patrol responded to the incident and, based on the video and and witness accounts, began looking for a maroon Chevrolet Trailblazer.
With the help of the Riverside Police Department, CHP officers located an SUV matching the suspect vehicle description and pulled it over around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday in the parking lot of a shopping center located near Magnolia and Tyler avenues, officials said.
The driver, identified as Rodriguez, was arrested. Authorities recovered a BB gun, BBs, and “other related items” in the SUV, the release stated.
It’s still unclear whether the suspect is connected to a string of at least 100 reported incidents of vehicles being shot at with a BB or pellet gun on roadways in Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties in the past month, about half of which have occurred along the 91 Freeway in Riverside County.
In announcing the arrest Wednesday, CHP described Rodriguez as a “person of interest believed to be responsible” for the series of BB or pellet freeway shootings that remain under investigation. Authorities have indicated they are still looking into the possibility that there were multiple shooters.
“While the DA’s Office has filed charges related to this May 25 BB gun shooting, there are dozens more incidents still being investigated. The DA’s Office anticipates more charges could be filed in the future,” the release stated.
Anyone who has information or may have been a victim but not yet reported it to authorities is asked to call CHP’s tip line at 714-288-6336.