Three More Attacks; Authorities Fight Back With Rewards, Other Actions
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Four motorists reported that shots were fired at them Tuesday on Southern California freeways, while authorities struggled to counter the violence with rewards, studies and proposed laws.
Two windows of a car driven by Anthony Barone were shattered about 9 a.m. as he was driving on the Foothill Freeway in the Tujunga area, 20 miles north of downtown, said California Highway Patrol Officer Kenn Rosenberg.
Investigators believe the bullet came from a sniper in the hills along the highway, Rosenberg said. No projectile was found and Barone was not injured.
A half-hour later in Oxnard, 50 miles northwest of downtown, a car carrying three people on the Ventura Freeway was fired on from a Chevrolet Camaro. The windshield was cracked but no one was hurt, said CHP Officer Jim Utter.
Another car was struck by a bullet at 2:30 p.m. on the Golden State Freeway in the Griffith Park area, five miles north of downtown, said CHP Officer Monty Keifer. The motorist told police the shot was fired from a red car.
In Oceanside, 25 miles north of San Diego, Gary Krajewski escaped injury early Tuesday in another apparent roadway shooting, said Oceanside police Officer Phil Dumas.
Krajewsi, a 36-year-old U.S. Customs agent, said he heard a loud noise and the passenger-side window of his car shattered.
A man arrested Tuesday was the 12th person booked in the wave of violence. Four people have been killed and 12 injured in more than three dozen shootings, rock-throwings and car-rammings in California since June 18.
″You know something is terribly wrong if people are calling up from other states wondering if it’s safe to travel to Disneyland,″ said Highway Patrol Chief Edward Gomez. ″People are simply freaking out.″
Calls were coming in every 10 minutes on Monday and Tuesday to a special Highway Patrol freeway violence hotline set up last week, but many of those reports could not be confirmed, said Officer Cleo Green.
″You just name it, they’ve been shooting out there, so people claim,″ he said. ″Every little thing people hear hit their car, they think it’s gunfire.″
’We’re doing all we can to track down the shooters, but I seriously wonder if we’re not losing all perspective with the incidents,″ Gomez said.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors offered a $25,000 reward Tuesday for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in a freeway shooting. The supervisors also ordered the county Sheriff’s Department to start collecting statistics on the attacks.
Assistant Sheriff Jerry Harper said his department has statistics on murders, robberies and other crimes, but not for freeway shootings.
″We believe the number of shootings is unusual, but don’t have the figures to back it up,″ he said.
Assemblyman Paul Zeltner called a news conference for Wednesday at which he was to announce legislation to increase penalties for people convicted of freeway shootings. He released no details Tuesday.
Most of those arrested so far have been booked for attempted murder. A first-degree attempted murder conviction carries a prison sentence of 25 years to life.
Meanwhile, the Highway Patrol released a profile of the shooters, culled from data since the wave of highway violence began six weeks ago.
It showed 43 percent of the shootings have occurred on weekends and all have been committed by males, half of whom were in their cars alone. Five of the shooting suspects drove pickup trucks and two were in vans; no pattern has emerged among victims or their vehicles.