Suspected freeway shooter to be arraigned Friday

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – A 58-year-old drifter accused of opening fire on freeway traffic in Kearny Mesa two weeks ago, wounding a college student and damaging another motorist's car is scheduled to be arraigned Friday in a downtown courtroom.

Stephen Joseph Dragasits, who was living in a recreational vehicle near the site of the shootings of state Route 163, was arrested Wednesday afternoon at a Wal-Mart in the area, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Dragasits was taken into custody on suspicion of two counts of attempted murder and several weapons charges.

The suspect, a New York native who told investigators he was a former Navy man and one-time employee of the county of San Diego, allegedly was linked to the shootings via DNA evidence found on a bullet casing picked up after the shooting and surveillance video, said CHP Capt. Rich Stewart.

The gunfire erupted near Clairemont Mesa Boulevard around 7 a.m. on April 5.

A few minutes later, the wounded 21-year-old University of San Diego student, unaware she had been shot, called her mother and told her she was having trouble breathing, authorities said.

A bullet had come through the rear passenger door of her Toyota Matrix and pierced her rib cage.

The Escondido resident underwent surgery and is recovering, Stewart said.

Authorities learned a second vehicle had been hit by a bullet on the same stretch of freeway about the same time the student was shot. On April 6, a 42-year-old Rancho Bernardo resident reported that his southbound car was shot near the junction of state Route 52.

The gun that fired the rounds, believed to be a Winchester 190 rifle, has not been recovered, Stewart said.

He said that prior to the shootings, Dragasits had been arrested and convicted for throwing rocks at cars on the freeway in the same area.

Stewart said it remained unclear exactly where the gunfire came from, though investigators do not believe the shooter was inside a moving vehicle.

Categories: KUSI