BELMONT -- Police arrested an East Palo Alto man Thursday in connection with a gang-related shooting on Highway 101 that left two men wounded and their car riddled with bullet holes, authorities said.

Officers moved in on Eric Valencia Vargas, 18, about 1 p.m. at a home on the 700 block of Veterans Boulevard in Redwood City on suspicion of attempted murder.

He's believed to be the trigger man who fired a dozen shots from one vehicle into a 2009 Dodge Charger as the cars headed south on Highway 101 near Ralston Avenue on Sept. 30, Belmont Police Lt. Pat Halleran said.

The violence appears to be related to a gang rivalry, but Halleran declined to say whether it was tied to a gang war that has flared up in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Police have connected more than a dozen shootings and several killings there to violent gangster retaliation.

In this case, it appears the victims -- a Menlo Park man, 24, an East Palo Alto Man, 19, and a Santa Cruz woman, 23 -- drove from the East Bay to the Peninsula on the San Mateo Bridge on the afternoon of the shooting, police said. They ended up sharing the road with the suspect, who opened fire, sending the victims' car off the freeway near Holly Street and into some bushes in San Carlos.


Advertisement

All three victims were rushed to the hospital, but only the men had bullet wounds. The East Palo Alto man and the woman were released the same day, but the Menlo Park man was hospitalized for several days, police said. All the victims are expected to recover from their injuries.

Eye witness accounts and physical evidence led police to begin watching Vargas. He is believed to be the only assailant in the attack, but the case is ongoing, Halleran said.

"This is a very dangerous guy," said Halleran. "This was not a random freeway shooting."

Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.