Accused Shooter Shows Up in Shades | NBC 7 San Diego

Accused Shooter Shows Up in Shades

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    NBC San Diego
    Stephen Joseph Dragasits, 58, entered the courtroom wearing sunglasses. The judge ordered him to remove them.

    A man accused of shooting at cars, injuring one driver and damaging another car showed up to court in sunglasses on Friday. The judge made him take them off.

    Stephen Joseph Dragasits, 58, pleaded not guilty to two counts of shooting at an inhabited vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon. He faces a maximum of 19 years in prison.

    Dragasits was originally booked on suspicion of attempted murder, but the District Attorney’s Office says it will wait until all the evidence is collected before deciding whether to charge Dragasits with attempted murder.

    For the first time on Friday we heard more about the injuries sustained by Ashley Simmons, 21, in the April 5 shooting.

    The University of San Diego student suffered from a collapsed lung and had bullets lodged in her liver, according to prosecutors.

    Simmons was traveling on southbound State Route 163 north of Balboa Avenue when she was shot in the abdomen.

    A second driver came forward after news reports of the Escondido woman's injury, reporting that a bullet also damaged his car.

    About 10 shell casings were collected to the side of the highway between Clairemont Mesa Boulevard and Balboa Avenue.

    Dragasits’ DNA was in the California Department of Justice DNA database which has profiles from 1.7 million convicted felons and felony suspects said deputies.

    Dragasits was convicted about a month ago of a similar act involving rocks near the same stretch of highway.

    Officials said video surveillance suggested that Dragasits was at the scene of the shooting on April 5. A driver had a personalized video recording in his or her vehicle that helped in the investigation, Stewart said.

    Investigators found additional evidence in Dragasits’ RV but would not reveal more information.

    "It's an ongoing investigation but we believe at this time we have enough information both physical evidence and DNA evidence that ties him to the vehicle, ties him to the location and to the shooting,” Stewart said.

    Dragasits told investigators that he is a former county employee and has a Naval background but the CHP could not confirm that information or provide additional details on his position or years of service.

    Investigators are following up on leads involving other vehicles seen in the area at the time of the shootings but said they believe they have the suspect.