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Shooting Suspect Faces Multiple Felony Counts
These photos show damage to vehicles struck in the morning hours of Feb. 9 as suspect Javier Rivera, 39, took random shots at passing motorists. San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department Photo

A 39-year-old man is in the San Joaquin County Jail on multiple felony counts, including attempted murder, in connection with a series of shootings in the River Road area, south of Escalon.

The arrest of Javier Rivera, described as a transient, was announced by the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Department following an investigation. He was booked into the county jail on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 9 and is due in Manteca court on Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 17, at 1:30 p.m. for additional court action.

Sheriff’s deputies said there had been reports of multiple vehicles being shot at over the past several months, south of the city limits along River Road. Until more shootings in the early morning hours of Feb. 9, none of the victims had been able to provide any suspect information.

However, said deputies, three vehicles were shot at on Feb. 9 and two of the victims were able to identify the suspect as being in a white sedan.

In the lengthy string of shootings, authorities said the suspect was randomly firing a shotgun at passing motorists, causing damage to their cars. Previously, the victims involved did not see the shooter or the vehicle driven to be able to provide a description to the investigating deputies.

The break came on Tuesday morning when the white sedan was seen and the sheriff’s department crime analysts researched contacts the department had with similar vehicles in the area, eventually able to identify the suspect vehicle and Rivera.

He had what authorities called an “extensive criminal history and multiple previous contacts with our office.”

Rivera was being held without bail and faces three felony counts of attempted murder, three felony counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling or vehicle; along with felony possession of a firearm, being a prohibited person (felon) in possession of ammunition, possession of a short-barreled shotgun; and misdemeanor counts of possession of a controlled substance, and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia.

San Joaquin County authorities said, with assistance from the Stanislaus County sheriff’s office, specifically, Riverbank Police Services deputies, the vehicle and suspect were located in Riverbank on Feb. 9.

When contacted by authorities, Rivera was found to be in possession of a pistol-sized, 12-gauge, double-barrel shotgun and a sawed-off pump-action shotgun. He admitted to the shootings and was taken into custody. Rivera reportedly chose victims at random and police are continuing the investigation.

In the week prior to his arrest, Rivera is believed to have been in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, and Fresno counties.

Sheriff’s department officials said if you have been the victim of this type of crime or have any information regarding the investigation, you are asked to contact the sheriff’s office at 209-468-4400, choose option 1 and ask to leave a message for Sergeant Theodore.