The situation in Arizona where Phoenix area law enforcement have been dealing with a potential serial shooter targeting Interstate 10 motorists may have spawned at least one copycat perpetrator, according to state officials. Incidents on Thursday and Friday have authorities concerned not only about multiple actors but perhaps the possibility that the original shooter might be expanding his range.
CNN reported September 11 that two additional shootings on Thursday, neither of which were on Interstate 10 (but were on roads in the Phoenix area), has authorities fearing that there could be one or more actors attempting the emulate the I-10 shootings, a series of incidents where vehicles have been hit with bullets or undetermined projectiles that began on August 29. A separate shooting incident on Interstate 17 (along which one other shooting occurred on September 6) on Friday is also being investigated.
Arizona State Trooper Tim Case, speaking for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said Thursday that it was as yet unclear if the two reports on Thursday were connected with the overall investigation. He noted that there were at least 11 confirmed shootings in the Phoenix area, however, that are being investigated as part of the I-10 shootings. He said bullets had struck seven of the vehicles. (That number rose to eight later on Thursday, according to an updated press release from the Arizona Department of Public Safety.)
So far, nobody has been killed in this string of highway shootings, but authorities believe that it is only a matter of time, if the incidents continue, before someone dies. Even though no deaths have occurred, a 13-year-old girl suffered a cut right ear late last month after a bullet entered through the windshield of the SUV in which she was riding.
Col. Frank Milstead, the Department of Public Safety director, says finding the person or persons responsible for the I-10 shootings is “job one” and says that “all these acts are potentially lethal encounters.” As Yahoo News reported, Milstead labeled the incidents “domestic terrorism crimes.”
“Anytime that you have multiple shootings against American citizens on a highway, that’s terrorism,” Col. Milstead stated. “They’re trying to frighten or kill somebody.”
He cautioned that travelers along I-10 in Phoenix should be “vigilant.” He added, “Under these circumstances, be hyper-vigilant.”
Arizona law enforcement say that, as yet, they have no suspects. However, several people have been detained and questioned. CNN reported that one man was arrested on unrelated charges after being questioned, but police have provided no additional details. A woman was questioned after a traffic stop but was later released. Authorities announced on Tuesday, according to Yahoo News, that the $5,000 reward fund being offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the Phoenix highway shooter had been increased to $20,000.