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updated 2/17/2011 9:25:42 PM ET 2011-02-18T02:25:42

A fight in a moving vehicle ended in gunfire after a man shot his female acquaintance and was then shot by officers on a bustling freeway near the Las Vegas Strip, police said.

Las Vegas police Lt. Lewis Roberts said the alleged gunman and woman were in critical condition after the Thursday afternoon shooting near an exit on Interstate 15.

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The couple was riding in a red sports utility vehicle with two male friends when the gunman began arguing with the woman. Police say the man punched one of his friends and then assaulted the woman.

The friend who was driving parked the vehicle and tried to calm the gunman. That's when the man pulled out a shotgun, Roberts said.

The woman and the two friends ran from the car, but the gunman followed, shooting the woman as motorists zoomed past.

The friends fled to a nearby Jack in the Box restaurant, where they were taken into police custody immediately after the shooting. Roberts said the men were not suspects.

"He had already shot her and he definitely would have shot them," Roberts said. "They fled to a safe place."

Police received numerous 911 calls before Las Vegas officers arrived at the scene and shot the gunman.

Roberts said the gunman may have fired at police. He did not describe the extent of the injuries sustained by the gunman and woman.

Interstate 15 is the busy north-south freeway linking Las Vegas and Los Angeles. The shooting happened within sight of the casino resorts of the Strip.

The Nevada Highway Patrol briefly closed southbound I-15, but quickly reopened the freeway while exits and entrances remained closed near the shootings, Trooper Joseph Fackrell said.

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Associated Press writer Cristina Silva in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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