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Gunfire Aimed at Cars Probed by CHP

March 02, 2004|Jia-Rui Chong | Times Staff Writer

Nine or more motorists were shot at along interstates in the East Bay area of Northern California last week, but no one was hit by the gunfire or seriously injured, the California Highway Patrol said Monday.

The latest shooting occurred Sunday, when a man in a gray minivan fired several shots at an automobile on Interstate 680 in Walnut Creek, officers said. Neither that man nor any other suspect has been arrested, officers said.

The CHP said it is focusing on a cluster of shootings that took place within 90 minutes on Feb. 23 on Interstate 580 between San Leandro and Dublin. Bullets struck eight cars.

Sgt. Wayne Ziese said officials are not sure how many suspects are involved. Ziese said that the Feb. 23 attacks appear related but that the others may not be.

Based on witness accounts, authorities are looking for one assailant in the Feb. 23 attacks, a white man in his 30s with a balding, possibly shaved head. They believe he was driving a dark-colored or black full-size, American-made pickup truck.

"It doesn't appear to be any type of conflict with the motorists out there," Ziese said.

"It's a little early to say what motivated an individual to cap rounds at six, seven, eight individuals."

Law enforcement officials said they are still interviewing victims and analyzing spent bullets, holes dotting the cars and broken windows.

On Friday and Sunday, two drivers reported that projectiles had hit their cars, but police have not yet determined whether the projectiles were bullets, rocks or BB pellets.

Barbara Price, 47, who was driving along Interstate 580 on Friday when her left passenger window shattered, said she never expected trouble along that route.

The area "is one of the safer communities," Price said. "The surrounding areas are pretty benign."

The Oakland-based consultant drives the road once every couple of days to meet clients. Price suffered minor cuts, but said she will not change her course.

"If you do that, then they win," she said.

Since Friday, CHP officers, Alameda County sheriff's deputies and local police officers have increased their patrols along Interstate 580 in marked and unmarked cars and helicopters.

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