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.
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.