11 highway shootings, thousands of tips, but Phoenix police still baffled

The number of confirmed reports of vehicles shot by an unarmed assailant has climbed to 11, but the incidents do not appear to fit any pattern.

Matt York/AP
Arizona Department of Public Safety officers stand near a tractor trailer shot near 67th Ave and I-10, Thursday, in Phoenix. Numerous shootings of vehicles along I-10 over the past two weeks have investigators working around the clock.

Despite receiving thousands of tips, Phoenix authorities remain bewildered by a string of shootings along the city's freeways.

Most of tips have been false alarms: windshields cracked by loose rocks, not bullets.

On Thursday alone, drivers reported possible shootings of an armored truck, two cars, and two tractor-trailers. The authorities and TV crews that scrambled to the scenes found only minor damage.

Police did confirm one of these reports as a shooting, raising the number of vehicles shot on Phoenix-area freeways since Aug. 29 to 11. Eight have been hit by bullets; the others struck by BBs or pellets.

To add to the frenzied confusion, the shootings haven't fit any clear pattern. Most have happened on Interstate 10, but they’ve occurred at various times and targeted all kinds of vehicles.

The indiscriminate attacks have sparked widespread public fear and led drivers to take alternative routes. So far only one person has been injured in the attacks. A girl’s face was cut by glass when a bullet shattered her window.

But Ron Freeman isn’t taking any chances. He called his wife and family to tell them to stay off the freeway until the situation calms down.

"It's kind of spooky, man, when people can't drive up and down the interstate unless they're getting shot at," Mr. Freeman, who works at a truck stop near I-10, told The Associated Press.

Authorities are appealing for help in their search through social media, news conferences, TV interviews, and freeway billboards. Earlier this week, they quadrupled a state reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooters from $5,000 to $20,000.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) has also enlisted the help of the FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, local police, and undercover law enforcement officers.

"We have a number of officers ... both uniformed, non-uniformed, plainclothes, undercover vehicles, marked vehicles on the road patrolling, looking for the suspect, looking for leads," DPS spokesman Bart Graves told the AP.

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 11 highway shootings, thousands of tips, but Phoenix police still baffled
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2015/0911/11-highway-shootings-thousands-of-tips-but-Phoenix-police-still-baffled
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe