An East Palo Alto man who is charged with attempted murder after allegedly shooting at a vehicle on U.S. Highway 101 faces 11 more felonies after a court in San Mateo County granted a prosecution motion for the additional charges Wednesday, Dec. 19.
Eric Valencia Vargas, 18, was in court to enter a plea in connection with the Sept. 30 shooting incident after he allegedly fired upon another vehicle on Highway 101 in Belmont.
Charges for which he appeared in court on Wednesday, excluding the 11 new counts, are: three counts of attempted murder; three counts of using a weapon of mass destruction (using ammunition designed to penetrate metal or armor); three counts of using a firearm to cause great bodily harm; three counts of being a gang member and firing upon an inhabited vehicle; two counts of committing crimes while being in a gang; three counts of resisting arrest and multiple other weapons charges.
Video-surveillance cameras captured Vargas following the victims' vehicle from the entrance of the San Mateo Bridge. Police believe the motive for the shooting was a rivalry between two gangs in East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Two people were struck by the gunfire and transported to the hospital. Both recovered from their injuries, the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office said.
On Nov. 14, members of the San Mateo County Gang Task Force contacted Vargas in East Palo Alto. They found that he was in possession of a loaded Glock handgun with an extended magazine and attempted to place him under arrest. Vargas fought with several officers before being subdued and taken into custody, after which he posted bail.
Forensic analysis linked the Glock firearm to the shooting, the DA's office said. He was taken into custody on an arrest warrant in the juror parking lot at the Hall of Justice in Redwood City on Dec. 6.
Vargas was to enter a plea on Wednesday, but that has been postponed. The new charges include 10 felony counts of threatening a police officer and one count of felony gang conduct. Vargas will return to court Jan. 22 to enter a plea and to set a preliminary hearing date. He remains in custody on no-bail status.