In what's become a frightening situation for metro-Phoenix motorists, the Department of Public Safety just confirmed that 11 vehicles have been hit by the "I-10 Shooter.”
Beginning on August 29, vehicles predominantly on Interstate 10 have become targets for an unknown individual or individuals. There's no pattern to the shootings: Cars and buses going in both directions, and at various points, have been shot at unpredictable intervals and times of day – which makes trying to time your commute to avoid possibly getting plugged impossible.
Not all of the vehicles targeted were traveling along I-10 — one was on State Route 202, and one was on Interstate 17.
In the wake of the apparent shooting of an automobile along State Route 51 near Shea Boulevard today that has yet to be declared part of the dangerous spree, the Paradise Valley Unified School District announced that its buses will travel only on surface streets until the situation is cleared up. One of the district's elementary schools is beside the freeway near where the incident occurred.
"At this time, the Phoenix Police Department has indicated there is no immediate threat to our schools in the area," the district stated.
The DPS isn't sure if the Valley of the Sun is dealing with one shooter, a gang of shooters, or a series of copycat shooters The agency can, however, confirm that at least seven vehicles were shot by someone using a firearm. In the other four strikes, unidentified “projectiles” were dispatched, the agency says.
Authorities haven't released information about the weapon or weapons used, but Anthony Enriquez, a local firearms expert, told Fox News that in his opinion, the shooter has used a semi-automatic weapon while traveling in a moving vehicle. He says, if he had to guess, the shooter's weapon of choice has been a long-range rifle that's able to hit a target 1,000 yards away.
Still, despite the apparent risk Valley motorists are taking every time they drive on I-10 particularly, and the fact that everyone from DPS Director Frank Milstead to Governor Doug Ducey is telling citizens to remain hyper-vigilant and alert without panicking, the 10 continues to be packed with cars during rush hours.
Indeed, according to Laura Douglas from the Arizona Department of Transportation, there's no noticeable change in traffic flow along I-10. She says 250,000 people travel daily on the downtown stretch of the freeway and that even in the midst of (what will hopefully remain) a non-fatal, car-shooting epidemic, these numbers were holding.
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That said, there have been anecdotal reports about drivers avoiding the "Shooter"'s favorite freeway and taking back streets. And social media is full of pictures of those big expressway warning sign touting the "Shooting Tips Hotline."
Here's a list of the incidents the DPS has designated part of the shooting spree:
1. Saturday, August 29, 2015, at 11:10 a.m. – on I-10 at 19th Avenue.
2. Saturday, August 29, 2015, between 11:10 a.m. and 11:25 a.m. – on I-10 between 35th and 67th avenues.
3. Saturday, August 29, 2015, at 10:15 p.m. — on I-10 at the mini-stack (east of 16th Street).
4. Sunday, August 30, 2015, at 9:45 p.m. – on I-10 between Sky Harbor Boulevard and State Route 51.
5. Monday, August 31, 2015, at 4:30 a.m. – on I-10 between 24th and 40th streets.
6. Sunday, September 6, 2015, at 5:50 p.m. – on I-17 near Dunlap Road.
7. Sunday, September 6, 2015, at 8:30 p.m. – on SR 202 between 32nd and 24th streets.
8. Tuesday, September 8, 2015, at 5:21 a.m. – on I-10 at 27th Avenue.
9. Tuesday, September 8, 2015, between 5:35 a.m. and 5:37 a.m. – on I-10 between 43rd and 35th avenues.
10. Wednesday, September 09, 2015, at 10:45 a.m. —on I-10 near 39th Avenue.
11.Thursday, September 10, 2015, at 9:40 a.m. – on I-10 and 83rd Avenue.