SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose Police have arrested a man suspected of shooting at least seven women and girls in the South Bay with an air-powered rifle.
38-year-old Nicholas Montoya of Campbell is charged with seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon and is now behind bars.
The first reported shooting happened on April 14, 2022 and the seventh on June 15, 2022.
Some of the victims faced life-threatening injuries, but thankfully no one was killed.
Gianna Vitarelli and Ramona Hockett were both shot in the back with an air-powered rifle while walking the streets.
Vitarelli was walking with a friend near Valley Fair Mall while Hockett was walking with a friend along Keyes Street.
Hockett says police told her captured video footage showed Montoya pulled over along the road when he fired his shot.
Vitarelli recalled a loud noise before she felt pain and her friend noticed the wound.
The pellet caused serious damage to the women. It came within inches, millimeters from their hearts.
"Moving forward, anytime I go outside my guard is going to be up because nowhere is really safe," Vitarelli said.
"I've been dealing with a lot of PTSD since the shooting and feeling very unsafe just walking down the street because I know he's just out there targeting people," Hockett said.
But Tuesday both Vitarelli and Hockett learned the news that returned some sort of peace and relief back to their lives: their suspected shooter had been arrested.
Montoya appeared in court for the first time today as the motives behind the shootings are still investigated
"Our detectives worked extensively on this case," SJPD Sgt. Christian Camarillo said. "What was really interesting and challenging for them was that in all of these instances, there was no physical evidence left behind. It really was a textbook 'who done it?' So very glad to get this individual off our streets."
San Jose police tell us all seven victims in the case were women in West San Jose and Campbell, a nine-year-old and 15-year-old Vitarelli among those shot.
The investigation included the SJPD Crime Analysis Unit, SJPD Crime Data Intelligence Center, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office Crime Strategies Unit and the Campbell Police Department.
After obtaining search warrants, Montoya was arrested at his home in Campbell on Aug. 2 and two air-powered rifles were seized, one with a scope on it. It is unclear at this time which gun was used, according to police.
Now, as Vitarelli and Hockett recover physically and mentally, they say they are thankful this shooter cannot hurt anyone anymore.
"It's brought a lot of relief knowing that he is behind bars and can't hurt anyone else because he's already hurt way too many people," Hockett said.
"I'm just really glad the guy was caught," Vitarelli said. "I think I feel a lot safer now."
Police are asking for any additional victims of the shootings to come forward as they continue their investigation.
SJPD and the Santa Clara County District Attorney's office will provide more details at a news conference scheduled for tomorrow.
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