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CHP Announces Arrest In Prunedale Projectile Attacks

California Highway Patrol
The CHP arrested Charles Kenneth Lafferty, 52, in connection with projectile attacks on cars passing through the Prunedale area.

For nearly a year now, mysterious projectiles have been hitting cars passing through the Prunedale area in Monterey County. The California Highway Patrol has made an arrest.  

The CHP arrested Charles Kenneth Lafferty, 52, Wednesday. He’s accused of using a slingshot with glass marbles to strike moving vehicles. Lafferty is now in custody at the Monterey County Jail.

Investigators held a press conference to announce the arrest on Thursday. The CHP led the investigation and established a task force that included the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office.

CHP Coastal Division Chief LD Maples said finding whoever was responsible was a top priority.

“In our minds, it wasn’t a matter of if but when there could be more serious consequences, including loss of life,” Maples said.

Four adults and one child suffered minor injuries from shattered car windows. In total, there were 69 reported incidents along Highway 101 and State Route 156 in Monterey County along with SR 156 in San Benito County. 

The last reported incident was on January 5, 2020.

“Shortly after this, the CHP was able to identify the suspect vehicle as a GMC Sonoma pickup truck,” Maples said.

Officials arrested Lafferty after executing search warrants in Monterey County and San Luis Obispo County. They say only he can explain the motive. But they do know he has ties to communities in and around Monterey County, with at least one residence and what officials call, “miscellaneous, odd jobs.”

For now, they’re relieved he’s off the road.

US Congressman Jimmy Panetta attended the press conference and thanked investigators for their work.

“But also thank you for making us safer, not just what you do every day, but what you have done through this tireless investigation,” Panetta said.

According to CHP, Lafferty faces 10 counts of throwing an object at a motor vehicle, a felony; 10 counts of assault with a deadly weapon; and one count of felony possession of a silencer. Investigators don’t believe a firearm was used in the highway attacks, but Lafferty was found with a silencer on him.

UPDATE 1/24/20 3:10PM: On Friday, the Monterey County District Attorney's Office said Lafferty has been charged with nine felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon. The D.A.'s office said he was arrested in Nipomo. 

Additional charges will likely be announced on Monday. 

Erika joined KAZU in 2016. Her roots in radio began at an early age working for the independent community radio station in her hometown of Boulder, Colorado. After graduating from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in 2012, Erika spent four years working as a television reporter. She’s very happy to be back in public radio and loves living in the Monterey Bay Area.
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