Phoenix Freeway Shootings: Man Questioned By Police Faces Unrelated Charges

by Aarne Heikkila, Elisha Fieldstadt and Phil Helsel /  / Updated 

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A man detained by Arizona police and questioned in connection with a string of 11 freeway shootings was booked Friday on a marijuana charge, authorities said.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety said Friday night that a 19-year-old was charged with possession of marijuana and booked in jail.

Earlier Friday, the man was taken into custody and questioned as police sought to find whoever is behind the shootings that have terrified Phoenix drivers, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said. The shootings on or near Interstate 10 occurred over nearly two weeks. Only one person has been injured.

The department said the man is not a suspect in the shootings but called him "a person of interest" in a statement Friday night.

"This person that we detained is for questioning, it’s not solely about this I-10 shooting situation. We’re interviewing and asking him about a number of things," Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves told reporters Friday.

Police swarmed a convenience store near Interstate 10, and detained the man and seized his white Chevrolet Tahoe earlier Friday, The Associated Press reported. The vehicle will be examined for evidence, which Graves said is standard procedure.

Graves would not say what led authorities to the man who was being questioned Friday. A woman was also detained but was released.

The most recent shooting in the spree, which began on Aug. 29, was reported Thursday morning and involved a bullet strike on a commercial truck-tractor, but it isn't clear when the vehicle was struck, police said.

Eight of the shootings have involved bullets, while three other vehicles were hit with unspecified projectiles, the department of public safety said.

The drivers of the struck vehicles have escaped the violence uninjured, but a 13-year-old girl was cut by flying glass in one incident, according to police.

Phoenix drivers who fear they might not be so lucky have avoided the highway while investigators work to find a suspect or suspects tied to the crimes, and determine whether they are all related.

Col. Frank Milstead, the state director of public safety, said Wednesday that he believes multiple people are behind the spree "just because the M.O.'s have changed."

Authorities offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to any suspects, and Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday appealed to the public for help.

Graves thanked the public for calling in tips. "That is really helping us with this investigation," Graves said.

"We are working 24 hours a day trying to get this person into custody," Graves said. "We couldn’t be as far along as we are without the help of the public.”

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