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Public Safety

Arrest Made In State Route-163 Shootings, Suspect Identified

Stephen Dragasits was arrested on April 20, 2011 in connection with the State Route 163 shootings.
Susan Murphy
Stephen Dragasits was arrested on April 20, 2011 in connection with the State Route 163 shootings.

An arrest has been made in the State Route-163 shootings that left a college student wounded earlier this month. The California Highway Patrol is announced details Thursday morning.

The CHP identified Stephen Dragasits by matching DNA from shell casings left on California Highway 163, as well as information from witnesses in the area.

Police say Dragasits is a transient who lives in an RV that is usually parked off of the 163 near Kearny Villa Road. He claims he is a former member of the U.S. Navy as well as a former San Diego county employee.


Officials say Dragasits fired a dozen shots along the freeway, just north of Mission Valley, during the April 5 morning rush-hour. One shot wounded a student after penetrating her car door.

He was also arrested and convicted last month for an incident involving rocks that were thrown at cars in the same area.

The 21-year-old University of San Diego student called her mother and told her she was having trouble breathing, according to authorities. The victim's mother called 911. The woman was taken to a hospital for emergency surgery for a wound to her rib cage.

The victim told authorities she was driving in the far left-hand southbound lane of the freeway, near Balboa Avenue, when she felt a pain in her right side, according to San Diego police.

A second driver also reported that his vehicle was damaged by gunfire along the same stretch of the highway, and at the same time.


Investigators determined that a hole in a rear window frame on the man's car also was caused by a small-caliber bullet, according to the CHP.

Dragasits is set to be arraigned at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow for attempted murder and other charges.

Corrected: October 4, 2023 at 1:37 PM PDT
City News Service contributed to the information in this report.
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