New Shootings on Interstate 10 Near Phoenix, Arizona; 3 Arrested

by Shamar Walters and Alexander Smith /  / Updated 

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Three people were arrested in connection with two new shootings on Interstate 10 in Arizona on Sunday, according to officials.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement that the incidents, which both occurred in the Phoenix area, were not connected to a spate of almost a dozen shootings on or near the same freeway in August and September.

The new incidents both happened early Sunday morning. A passenger was twice seen firing a handgun out of the window of a black sedan on the highway, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

On the second report of gunfire, a police helicopter was able to track the sedan to an apartment complex and officers from the Phoenix Police Department arrived and immediately apprehended two suspects, the statement said. A third suspect was taken into custody 45 minutes later, it added.

Police later found that another vehicle had been shot during the incident. The round, which was still embedded in the vehicle, was seized as evidence, according to police.

Charges and booking for the three suspects were pending further investigation.

Police said there was "no link at this point" between Sunday's "isolated" incident and a spate of 11 similar shootings on and around Interstate 10 over a two-week period.

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., 21, has pleaded not guilty to being involved in four of the incidents. Authorities believe copycats are responsible for the remaining seven.

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