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San Jose police arrest suspected serial pellet gun shooter

Police arrested a man on Tuesday suspected of a series of shootings from a pellet gun at seven people from April to June, San Jose police said. 

Nicholas Montoya, 38, of Campbell, is accused of shooting lead pellets from a high-powered rifle at three victims in three separate San Jose locations in a 45-minute period on June 10. Another victim was identified the following day. 

Police said they immediately put together a task force to identify and apprehend a suspect in the crimes. 

Detectives linked Montoya to three more pellet gun shootings between April 14 and June 15, bringing the total number of shootings to seven. 

The victims were hit with high-velocity projectiles believed to be pellets. In several cases, doctors declined to remove the projectiles from the victims due to the inherent risk of the procedure, SJPD said. 

The victims range in age from 9 years old to 56, with one other minor victim being 15. 

That 15-year-old is Gianna Vitarelli, who went to the hospital after she was hit with a pellet as she and her girlfriend were leaving Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara in June. 

In an interview with KTVU two months ago, Gianna said that she felt something pierce her skin and then she saw a car driving off. 

After blood started flowing from the wound, paramedics thought it was a relatively minor piercing of her skin. But, as her condition worsened, and her breathing was labored, doctors found out it was much worse.

The pellet had caused her lung to collapse, fractured a rib and caused internal bleeding. 

That serious injury caused Gianna to have emergency surgery and spend three days in the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit.

The pellet is and will remain in her lung.

Six out of the seven people shot are female; six of the shootings occurred in San Jose and one in Campbell. 

Police said that a "unique" suspect vehicle description led them to Montoya, as well as evidence seized during a search warrant. 

SEE ALSO: Pellet gun drive-by shooting almost kills 15-year-old in Santa Clara

Montoya was arrested at his residence in the 200 block of Beverly Court in Campbell, police said. 

Montoya has been charged by the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office with seven counts of assault with a deadly weapon and assault causing great bodily injury, the SJPD said. 

San Jose suspect

San Jose Police Department's Covert Response Unit arrested Nichola Montoya, 38, of Campbell, Calif., charging him with 7 counts of 245 PC G Assault with a Deadly Weapon, and 243D PC G Assault causing great bodily injury. (San Jose Police Department v