Written by AARON CASTREJON
COVINA - Police announced October 30 the arrest of a man who allegedly used an air rifle to destroy property in and around Cypress Elementary school late last year.
Justin Lee Estep, 32, is accused of using what has been described previously by investigators as a large bore air rifle to cause destruction at homes and other buildings in the Covina area from November 2019 to January 2020.
Estep was booked on suspicion of felony vandalism, according to the Covina Police Department.
Covina officers in the patrol division and detective bureau developed new leads in the investigation and identified Estep as a suspect. A search warrant was written and executed, helping investigators to find and seize from Estep’s vehicle a high-powered air rifle wrapped in camouflage cloth, lead projectiles, an air tank and air compressor, according to the Covina Police Department.
Additional evidence was discovered inside the suspect’s residence, Covina Police said.
The vandalism occurred in the area of the 300 block of W. Cypress St. in unincorporated Covina.
The vandalism was first covered by SGV CityWatch at the beginning of the year.
At least nine homes suffered various damage after being hit by what deputies described as large bore air rifle bullets.
The shootings took place over a six-week period around unincorporated Covina communities and within Covina city limits. Projectiles hit homes, front yards, backyards and objects on private property, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s San Dimas Station.
“These are relatively large projectiles, not like what you might expect from a traditional BB or pellet gun. These are actual bullets fired from an air rifle as powerful as some pistols,” the San Dimas Sheriff’s Station said in a written statement from January 2020.
Some residents were home when the shots were fired.
Such weapons use compressed air to fire the large bore projectiles, usually lead. The sound emitted closely resembles that of a paintball gun.
Estep was issued a citation and released October 30, according to Los Angeles County booking records. He was scheduled to make an appearance November 2 in Los Angeles County Superior Court.