Reward up to $50,000 for info on shootings

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Arizona law enforcement agencies announced the reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons believed to be responsible for a string of highway shootings in and around the Phoenix metro area has increased to $50,000.

Authorities are still searching for the person or people responsible for a string of shootings around the Interstate 10 area in Phoenix, according to DPS spokesman Bart Graves.

Graves said investigators are pursuing leads in the shooting, and that “the investigation continues.”

Arizona Department of Public Safety officers have been investigating a series of 11 shootings that have occurred along I-10 beginning on Aug. 29. The most recent confirmed shooting incident occurred on Sept. 11 and involved a tractor-trailer.

At least eight of the incidents have involved vehicles being struck with bullets, while three others involved the vehicles being struck by other projectiles, Graves said.

One person of interest has been arrested on an unrelated drug charge and a trio of teenage boys are facing charges of assault, endangerment and criminal damage in what are allegedly “copycat” attacks perpetrated on motorists.

The three teen suspects were apprehended last weekend. Both DPS Director Frank Milstead and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a news release that the teens are believed to have been engaging in copycat behavior, and are not directly linked to the shootings.

On Friday, DPS officials announced they had questioned two persons of interest in the highway shootings, one of whom was detained. The detained suspect was subsequently identified as Oscar De La Torre Munoz, 19, of Avondale. Munoz was booked into Maricopa County Jail on Friday on an unrelated drug charge, according to DPS spokesman Bart Graves.

Milstead previously referred to the shootings as “acts of domestic terrorism.”

Only one person – a 13-year-old girl who was cut by shattered glass in the initial attack – has been injured so far in the shooting incidents, Graves has said.

The three teenage suspects in the copycat case – all of whom are 18 years old and from Mesa – have been identified as Aaron Nottingham, Albert German and Christian Cook. According to a news release issued by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department, the suspects allegedly admitted their involvement in using a slingshot to fire landscaping rock at 10 pedestrians and four vehicles in the Mesa and Queen Creek areas on Saturday.

Police are asking motorists to be alert and exercise caution in the area. Graves said anyone with information about the shooting or who observes suspicious persons or activity should call the Arizona DPS at 602-644-5805, or Silent Witness, an anonymous crime hotline for the Phoenix metro area at 480-948-6377.

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