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January 28, 2023

Suspect in highway projectile attacks pleads guilty

Lafferty was accused of shooting more than 60 vehicles with slingshot, marble

Charles Kenneth Lafferty, the Los Banos man accused of shooting projectiles at dozens of motorists on Highways 156 and 101 in 2019, pleaded guilty to 30 felony counts in relation to the incidents, according to prosecutors.

Lafferty, 54, entered the guilty plea in Monterey County Superior Court on April 29. His plea was the result of an agreement with prosecutors, in which Lafferty will serve 15 years in state prison, according to Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Matthew L’Heureux. He will also be required to pay restitution to the victims. 

Specifically, Lafferty pleaded guilty to 28 counts of assault with a deadly weapon—two of which are related to incidents in San Benito County, L’Heureux said. Lafferty also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer. He will be formally sentenced on June 29. 

Charles Kenneth Lafferty

Lafferty had originally been charged with 63 felony counts in relation to at least that many incidents in which he allegedly used a slingshot to shoot marbles at vehicles traveling through San Benito County and Prunedale. Most of the listed charges were for assault with a deadly weapon, and most were related to incidents in Monterey County. Three of the original charges were for incidents in San Benito County.

The two counts of assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer involved Lafferty shooting a marble at two California Highway Patrol officers in a marked patrol vehicle who were responding to an earlier projectile incident, according to the Monterey County DA’s Office. Neither officer suffered injuries.

Some of the original charges against Lafferty were for child abuse, as he shot some of the projectiles at vehicles with children inside, according to authorities. 

For nearly a year starting in February 2019, Lafferty terrorized motorists along Highways 156 and 101 by shooting marbles at cars traveling through the busy corridor, according to authorities. Investigators from the CHP and local law enforcement agencies determined that at least 70 vehicles had been struck with projectiles along the same stretch of roadways from February 2019 until just before Lafferty’s arrest in January 2020.

The attacks resulted in injuries to six victims—including one child— as a result of being hit with broken glass, as well as window damage to all of the vehicles, according to authorities. Investigators think Lafferty acted alone in all of the incidents.

Lafferty was arrested in Nipomo after investigators with the CHP and Monterey County Sheriff’s Office served search warrants at residences in San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties, according to authorities. A key break in the case came when investigators determined a GMC pickup truck involved in the attacks was connected to Lafferty.

Detailed forensic analysis linked Lafferty to more than 50 of the incidents reported to the CHP, says a press release from the Monterey County DA’s Office. 

After his arrest, Lafferty admitted to police that he had shot marbles at moving vehicles using a slingshot, authorities said. Police seized a slingshot, a slingshot replacement band and 55 marbles from Lafferty’s vehicle the day he was arrested. 

Lafferty “never disclosed a motive” for the crimes, L’Heureux said.

L’Heureux explained the Monterey County DA’s office prosecuted the San Benito County projectile incidents through an agreement with DA Candice Hooper’s office. State laws allow county prosecutors to consolidate cases in this way, which “maximizes efficiency” in the justice process, L’Heureux added. 

This is a developing story. Check back later for more details.

Michael Moore
Michael Moore is an award-winning journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor for the Morgan Hill Times, Hollister Free Lance and Gilroy Dispatch since 2008. During that time, he has covered crime, breaking news, local government, education, entertainment and more.

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