(FRESNO, Calif.) — California authorities have filed charges against a suspect they believe is responsible for a string of recent drive-by shootings in two different counties.
Ten vehicles were struck by gunfire between Nov. 21, 2017, and Dec. 17, 2017, in rural sections of Fresno and Madera Counties during morning and afternoon commuting hours, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said last month.
The shootings had stopped for several weeks after Mims put out a description of the suspect’s vehicle at a Dec. 21 press conference.
The suspect, 42-year-old Jorge Javier Garcia, was arrested on Jan. 8 after he allegedly brandished a gun at a driver just outside Kerman, California, and followed him into a gas station within city limits, Mims said.
The driver Garcia threatened was an armed correctional officer for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and he pointed his gun at Garcia before ordering him to get out of the vehicle and lie down on the ground.
Officers from the Kerman Police Department responded to the scene during this time, and Garcia was taken into custody on the firearm and drug possession charges as well as an outstanding warrant for driving on a suspended license, Mims said.
After realizing that the suspect’s vehicle — a gray 2015 Chevrolet Silverado — matched the description of the truck in the series of shootings, the Kerman Police Department alerted the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, who found a .380 semi-automatic handgun and methamphetamine inside the truck while serving a search warrant the next day, Mims said.
Ballistics tests revealed that bullets recovered from five of the shootings matched the bullets from the handgun, she said.
“And so we believe that this suspect is responsible for those shootings,” Mims said.
Garcia, a resident of Kerman, has a lengthy criminal history that includes sexual assault, domestic violence and narcotics violations, Mims said. He spent 12 years in prison on two rape convictions and is a registered sex offender, Mims said.
Prosecutors have charged Garcia with assault with a deadly weapon, brandishing of a firearm, being a felon on a firearm and ammunition, carrying a loaded firearm and drug possession. He is currently being held in a Fresno County jail on $1.2 million bond.
During the series of shootings, the suspect appeared to be shooting at oncoming vehicles driving in the opposite direction, according to Mims.
One woman was hurt by shrapnel after her vehicle was shot at, Mims said. The victim suffered non-life threatening injuries to her upper torso.
Each of the victims reported hearing “loud bangs” as another vehicle was going past them, Mims said. When they later inspected their vehicles, they found bullet holes in various places.
Garcia entered a not guilty plea during his arraignment Friday morning, his attorney, Mark Lloyd Siegel, told ABC News. Siegel did not comment on the case beyond that Garcia is charged with a “number of things” and that the prosecutor will “have the burden to prove that the charges are true.”
Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.