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Highway Patrol On Lookout For Freeway Shooter

Authorities sought today to determine who carried out an East County car-to-car freeway shooting in which a young Clairemont man and his passenger narrowly escaped injury or death.

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State Route 94 in Lemon Grove


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The 21-year-old motorist and his cousin came under fire about 2:30 a.m. Thursday while heading east on State Route 94 in Lemon Grove, according to the California Highway Patrol.

The driver later told investigators the sound of the first shot made him think for an instant that he had blown a tire. Several more "pops'' followed from the direction of a vehicle traveling alongside his white Ford Five Hundred, and the passenger window directly behind him shattered, CHP public affairs Officer Brian Pennings said.

At that point, "he realized he was being shot at, so he dived across the center console and applied his brakes,'' Pennings said.

A moment later, the motorist looked out his windshield and saw a dark-colored car continuing down the freeway at high speed.

The driver of the damaged sedan continued on to his cousin's La Mesa house and dropped him off before going home. He then told his mother what had happened, and she made an emergency call to report the shooting, Pennings said.

CHP Patrol investigators found three bullet holes in the victim's car - one on a window post positioned within inches of the driver's seat, another on the left front fender and the third in the front bumper. The latter slug had ricocheted into the front driver's side tire, causing a slow leak, according to Pennings.

Shell casings were found on the freeway near Federal Boulevard, along with shards of automotive window glass. The CHP spokesman declined to specify the caliber of the cartridges.

The victims did not see the shooter or shooters and could provide only a vague description of the vehicle from which the rounds were fired.

With so little to go on, investigators had no immediate theories about what might have motivated the crime and whether the gunfire was random or specifically targeted, Pennings said.

"We're not ruling anything out right now,'' he added.