Police in San Jose have detained a man who “lurked and stalked” 7 people. The victims were mainly girls and women (only one man was targeted), before opening fire with a high-powered pellet gun.
Two of the victims, Gianna Vitarelli and Ramona Hockett, were both shot in the back whilst walking down the street. Vitarelli said she remembered hearing a loud noise before feeling pain. Vitarelli went on to say that it was her friend who noticed the wound. Some of the victims did sustain life-threatening injuries, but all victims survived the attacks. Both Vitarelli and Hocket said the attack left them feeling unsafe and vulnerable while outside.
“Moving forward, anytime I go outside my guard is going to be up because nowhere is really safe,” Vitarelli said.
“I’ve been dealing with a lot of PTSD since the shooting and feeling very unsafe just walking down the street because I know he’s just out there targeting people,” Hockett said.
Authorities have confirmed that the attacks took place over the last several months in both San Jose and Campbell. 38-year-old Nicholas Edward Montoya was arrested for the offenses, which date back to April. Authorities have confirmed in their initial investigations that Montoya doesn’t appear to have a connection to any of the victims.
He was arrested on Tuesday at his home and charged Wednesday. He has been charged with seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon along with seven counts of battery causing serious bodily injury. All of these charges are felonies.
The charges also include weapon enhancement charges. If convicted on all charges, Montoya could face up to 21 years in prison. Montoya is currently detained in Elmwood men’s jail in Milpitas. He has been denied bail.
Marisa McKeown, who is a supervising Santa Clara County deputy district attorney, spoke out about the random and vicious nature of the crimes: “These were deliberate snipe attacks on innocent victims including a 9-year-old girl, a 15-year-old girl, and several other young women.”
Detectives are still unclear about the motive behind the attacks, but they are relieved to have taken Montoya off the streets.
“Our detectives worked extensively on this case,” said SJPD Sergeant Christian Camarillo. “What was really interesting and challenging for them was that in all of these instances, there was no physical evidence left behind. It really was a textbook ‘who done it?’ So very glad to get this individual off our streets.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE MERCURY NEWS
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