Judge Sets Bail for Alleged Freeway Shooter

View Comments (
)
|
Email
|
Print

    NEWSLETTERS

    NBCSanDiego
    Dragasits bail is set at $2 million.

    A judge set bail Tuesday for the man accused of shooting at cars on SR-163, injuring one driver, at $2 million.

    On April 22, Stephen Joseph Dragasits, 58, pleaded not guilty to two counts of shooting at an inhabited vehicle and assault with a deadly weapon; he was held without bail.

    During Tuesday's hearing Dragasits attorney, deputy public defender Euketa Oliver, told the judge her client was entitled to bail and asked that bail be set at $1 million citing that her client had a clean felony record. The judge, however, set Dragasits bail at $2 million.

    Tuesday hearing was supposed to be Dragasits readiness hearing, but Oliver stated she had not received evidence from the case and asked the judge for a continuance. Oliver also asked the judge to make sure her client be screened for medical problems.

    Dragasits was originally booked on suspicion of attempted murder for the April 5 shooting, 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.

    Investigators say Ashley Simmons, 21, was driving along SR-163 when she was allegedly shot by Dragasits. The University of San Diego student suffered from a collapsed lung and had bullets lodged in her liver, according to prosecutors.

    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.

    Dragasits faces a maximum of 19 years in prison.