Authorities Offer $20K Reward for Slingshot Shooter Wreaking Havoc On City's Windows

Several homes and businesses in San Jose, California have been targeted in a recent string of slingshot attacks. Now, authorities there are offering a sizable reward to anyone who can help them find the suspect.

Not frequently seen in major crimes, slingshots are often imagined as the weapon-of-choice for mischievous, young delinquents. No doubt aided by countless popular media representations—a notable example being the slingshot-toting Bart Simpson—they're are rarely seen as capable of causing real-life harm.

The recent crimes in San Jose, however, serve as a reminder that slingshots, which also have histories of use in game hunting and political demonstrations, can actually be quite powerful.

According to a Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office press release, at least 20 sites along the State Route 87 corridor have been hit by the unknown assailant since the start of this year.

Authorities believe that the suspect is using a slingshot or similar device to fire what they called "ball bearings"—and that the speeds they achieve are "potentially lethal," authorities said.

Among the affected properties are residential homes, businesses, cultural institutions, and government agencies. Damage to windows is estimated at over $500,000, but no injuries have been reported.

In one case, added the DA's office, a woman was sitting in her car when its windows were "blown out" in an attack, leaving her "terrified."

The targets also include notable institutions within the San Jose area—though whether this is intentional or not remains unclear. The District Attorney's Crime Lab, for example, has been hit by the suspect eight different times. The San Jose Museum of Art was another victim, as was the SAP Center, an indoor arena primarily used by the San Jose Sharks, a National Hockey League team.

"We are asking for the public's help to stop this destructive and dangerous spree," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen in a statement. "This is not just property damage. People live and work behind those windows."

San Jose is not the only Northern Californian city to see a recent string of crimes involving a slingshot. In August, a man in San Francisco was charged with hate crimes after using slingshots, pipes, and hammers to break the windows of 20 businesses, the majority of which were Chinese-owned. In some of the crimes, which spanned from April to August 2021, the man was also accused of stealing cash and other items.

"We absolutely do not tolerate violence or hate in San Francisco," said District Attorney Chesa Boudin in a statement. "Chinese-owned businesses should be able to operate without fear of being racially targeted by vandalism, burglary, or harassment."

Currently, the motive behind the string of crimes in San Jose remains unknown. Newsweek has reached out to several of the sites affected by the so-called "slingshot shooter," as well as the Santa Clara County DA's office, but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

Slingshot
An unknown suspect has been using what authorities called a slingshot to cause a large amount of damage in the San Jose, California area. An Iraqi demonstrator using a slingshot to launch stones, 2019. HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP/Getty Images