Authorities are investigating whether a suspect arrested Wednesday in Riverside County may be responsible for a score of BB gun freeway shootings that have left more than 100 vehicle windows shattered across the Southland in recent weeks.
“An arrest was made this morning from an incident that occurred in Riverside County yesterday evening,” California Highway Patrol Officer Jake Sanchez said. “Right now, we are actively conducting an investigation to confirm if this is the same person associated with the BB gun incidents in Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties.”
The suspect’s name or other identifying information was not immediately released, nor did investigators reveal whether a weapon was recovered.
Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback confirmed patrol officers stopped a “possible” suspect vehicle by the Galleria at Tyler shopping mall Tuesday night “based on information the CHP broadcasted to our officers about another shooting incident that may have occurred tonight along the freeway in Riverside.”
“It is unknown at this time if the vehicle we stopped is actually involved, but we contacted CHP who responded and took over the investigation,” he said.
KTLA reported that a vehicle was fired on Tuesday night on the Riverside (91) Freeway near Piece Street and that 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 was shot at gave authorities the same vehicle description, and CHP and Riverside officers located the SUV at the shopping mall, KTLA reported.
No one has been injured in the spate of window-shattering attacks on the freeways in Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties.
On Tuesday, three incidents were reported, including an 8 a.m. shooting on the westbound Riverside (91) Freeway that blew out the driver’s window.
Also on Tuesday, a vehicle was damaged about 6 a.m. on the southbound Costa Mesa (55) north of Fourth Street in Santa Ana and another shooting occurred about 7 a.m. on the Santa Ana (5) Freeway in Irvine, said CHP Officer John DeMatteo. In the latter incident, the motorist did not call it in until about an hour later, so it’s unclear where exactly it happened, he said.
CHP investigators have implored victims to call authorities right away because it can help locate where and when these cases are happening, using clues found by checking Caltrans cameras along the freeways. The CHP has boosted patrols on local freeways and may be a short distance away and have a better chance of capturing a potential suspect if the call is made right away.
In the past month — mainly in Riverside, Orange and Los Angeles counties — the CHP estimates there have been about 100 incidents of cars being damaged by BB or pellet gun fire. 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 specific descriptions of the cars or suspects have been provided by the CHP.
A CHP officer’s cruiser recently sustained a damaged window on the eastbound 91 at the 241 Tollway in the Anaheim Hills that could possibly be 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.”