PHOENIX (CN) – Three Mesa teenagers were arrested Saturday night in what are believed to be copycat attacks of the 11 freeway shootings that have Phoenix on edge.
Eight of the 11 shootings on Phoenix freeways that began on Aug. 29 have come on I-10 near downtown and in the West Valley.
One shooting was reported on State Route 202, and another on Interstate 17. A bullet hole was found in a semi truck, but it is unknown when or where that shooting occurred.
Only one person has been injured: a 13-year-old girl in an SUV suffered a cut to her right ear when a bullet shattered a window. A tour bus, three cars, a pickup truck and a box truck were hit by bullets, and a box truck and two pickups were hit by “projectiles.”
Three 18-year-old men were arrested Saturday night after a couple reported the rear driver’s side window of their car was shot out by the teens, who used granite rocks and a slingshot.
Aaron Nottingham, Albert German and Christian Cook, all of Mesa, were booked on assault, endangerment and criminal damage charges. They are alleged to have targeted four other vehicles and 10 pedestrians over four hours.
“Last night we received a phone call, a man and wife in a vehicle. The window was shattered on the driver’s side,” Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio told reporters. “The victims were smart enough to get the license plate on the vehicle that pulled up next to their vehicle and shot at them with rocks.”
Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead was tight-lipped, but said his agency has received more than 850 tips on the freeway shootings.
“None of this is fun and games. It’s all very, very serious,” Milstead said. “None of us should have to drive the freeways or any roadway and worry about people just randomly shooting items at our vehicles.”
Oscar de la Torre Munoz, 19, was identified last week as a person of interest in the case and was brought in for questioning, but has not been charged in relation to the shootings. He is being held for possession of marijuana.
“The person we had in custody last week is still in custody and that investigation is ongoing,” Milstead said. “We don’t think what happened on the east side is anything related to what we have going on in the west side.”
A $20,000 reward has been offered for any tip that leads to arrest for the shootings.
Eight pedestrians were shot in drive-by shootings in Phoenix from May 2005 to July 2006. Dale Hausner was sentenced to six death penalties in the case. He died in 2013 after he overdosed in his cell on an anti-depressant.
His co-conspirator, Sam Dieteman, was sentenced to life in prison.
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