The California Highway Patrol (CHP) will increase staffing in the Prunedale area over the holidays. The CHP hopes amplified enforcement will help them finally find whoever is responsible for shooting projectiles at passing cars.
The attacks began in February with a spike beginning in October. So far, the CHP has investigated 63 reported incidents. Cars driving on Highway 101 and State Route 156 in and around Prunedale are being hit by projectiles, shattering some car windows. On November 22, a Carmel Unified School District bus traveling to a football game was hit.
“We've had five reported injuries. They've all been relatively minor injuries, such as glass in the eyes, hands and arms,” Captain Kyle Foster, commander of Monterey CHP, said.
Foster says the typical time period they’re seeing the attacks is between 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays.
“We have recovered evidence at the scene and we've definitively ruled out that they're using a firearm,” Foster said.
But beyond that, CHP isn’t releasing information about what the objects are. A taskforce has been assigned to the case. Every time there’s an incident, the team is called out to investigate.
CHP institutes maximum enforcement periods over Christmas and New Years with 80 percent of available officers already on patrol. A particular focus this year will be the Prunedale area.
Eric Brem, who lives in Tres Pinos, says these attacks have frightened him. He commutes along the targeted roadways to Salinas and now sometimes takes backroads.
“The scary part is at night. So I try to get home as fast as possible and maybe even leave a little bit early,” Brem said.
CHP is warning drivers to keep their windows up for added safety and to look out for anything unusual. If you’re struck by a projectile, CHP wants you to put your hazard lights on, pull over to the shoulder and dial 911.
“Usually we have officers on scene within just a few minutes. So the quicker they call, the quicker we can get there,” Foster said.
Foster said if pulling over on the highway is unsafe, take the nearest offramp and then call 911.
There’s a $15,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible. Foster says the money comes from a number of different sources. The CHP is offering $4,000, the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office is offering $2,500, Monterey County Supervisor John Phillips is offering $1,500 and the remainder comes from local citizens and community groups.