A man accused of a series of shootings, where he fired a BB gun at passing cars on roads and freeways in Southern California last year, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison Monday after pleading guilty to three felony charges.
Jesse Leal Rodriguez, 35, of Anaheim accepted the Riverside County district attorney’s office plea agreement, admitting to three counts of assault with a deadly weapon. At one point, he was facing three charges of attempted murder and was suspected in at least six similar shootings along Southern California freeways and roads.
Law enforcement officials saw a series of shootings along freeways and roads for about a month in 2021, with drivers having their windows shattered or cars damaged while on the road, especially along the 91 Freeway.
The incidents led to a wide investigation by the California Highway Patrol after a series of car-to-car shootings in Riverside and Orange counties, eventually leading to the arrest of Rodriguez in May 2021.
The three counts were filed for three separate shootings, including a May 25, 2021, incident where Rodriguez‘s maroon Chevrolet Trailblazer was caught on the rearview camera of a Tesla.
The rear window of the Tesla was shattered near Hamner Avenue and Hidden Valley Parkway in Norco, prosecutors said, and Rodriguez’s vehicle was seen in the video with the driver’s side window rolled down.
The Trailblazer was also linked to a second incident that same day along the 91 Freeway near Tyler Avenue in Riverside, where a victim spotted the vehicle shooting at her car from behind as she was changing lanes.
In a third incident, Rodriguez pleaded guilty to a shooting on the 91 Freeway near Magnolia Avenue. The victim in that incident reported hearing a pop and her rear window shattering. Just after the window shattered, she reported seeing a dark SUV passing her on the right.
Rodriguez was pulled over about 30 minutes after the incident in a shopping center. Authorities found a BB gun and BBs.
Rodriguez had previously claimed he was not involved in the freeway shootings after he was arrested, telling the Southern California News Group in a jailhouse interview last year that authorities were “trying to get me to confess to things I didn’t do” and that he was “no marksman.”
Rodriguez instead claimed he had taken the weapons that were found in his car from his stepson.