911 call from Highway 99 helped unravel serial highway shootings

Fresno, Calif. (KFSN) -- A highway showdown helped Valley police agencies end a series of random highway shootings that stretched across two months in 2017.

Day after day, week after week, and car after car, fear grew for drivers west of Highway 99 as a serial shooter took aim without consequence.

At least seven times, investigators found evidence of shootings, but no shooter.

"There was a hole on the left rear quarter panel of the vehicle," said a crime scene investigator who investigated one of the shootings.

"I observed what appeared to be a bullet hole in the rear driver's side door just below the handle," said another investigator who looked at another scene.

The highway shootings in Fresno and Madera counties last year started unraveling with a phone call from Highway 99.

"I just saw he was in the slow lane and I was just going by and wasn't even going to pay attention to him until his window came down," said the driver who made the call.

The former Navy small arms instructor knew exactly what he saw coming from the window.

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"I glanced that way and I see the end of a pistol come out the window and he starts shaking it, pointing it at me and shaking it to make sure I noticed that it's there," said the man we're not identifying at the request of the trial judge. "At that point, I let up on my gas and just coasted back."

He reported seeing a license plate of "1GARCIA", which is almost exactly Jorge Gracia's license plate -- with just two letters transposed. Based on that, investigators got a warrant to keep track of Gracia.

A while later, his run-in with an off-duty correctional officer at the Kerman Walmart led to his arrest, and Fresno County sheriff's deputies recovered a pistol.

Investigators say the bullets they recovered look exactly how bullets would look if they were shot from Gracia's gun.

The correctional officer is scheduled to testify later this week.

Gracia faces life in prison if he's convicted.
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