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Startled by phone buzzing and beeping? Here’s what Blue Alert means

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PHOENIX – Cellphones across metro Phoenix buzzed and beeped Thursday, startling some people and leaving many wondering what “Blue Alert” means.

The rarely used Blue Alert system is designed to warn the public and help with the search when a suspect in the assault of a law enforcement officer is on the loose.

Arizona adopted the system in 2014, when then-Gov. Jan Brewer signed it into law. Arizona was the 19th state to implement Blue into its alert program.

It works much like an Amber Alert for kidnapped children. If an officer is assaulted, the Arizona Department of Public Safety can activate a Blue Alert and notify local media and the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The media then broadcasts information about the attack and a description of the suspect, while ADOT posts information on freeway message boards, including a description of the suspect’s car and a license number.

In Thursday’s case, a teenage male got out of a silver Infiniti and fired multiple shots at two uniformed DPS detectives near 37th Avenue and Portland Street in Phoenix around 9 a.m., Capt. Jesse Galvez told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

The 17-year-old suspected shooter was taken into custody. The search for the driver, believed to be a Hispanic male in his late teens, continues. No injuries were reported.

The Blue Alert was activated around noon, triggering cellphones across metro Phoenix.

Galvez said the troopers were sitting in their parked vehicle in support of a nearby operation when the Infiniti pulled directly in front of them and honked.

“At that point the passenger in the Infiniti exited the vehicle and raised an assault rifle and began firing at our two detectives,” Galvez said.

The troopers fired back, Galvez said, adding that it was too early to know how many shots were exchanged.

“The driver of the Infiniti then took off, leaving the shooter behind, and our detectives at that point were able to take that shooter into custody,” he said.

DPS released photos of the car involved, a G-37 from model years 2008-13 with custom wheels.

The car has temporary license plates and might have chipped paint below the plate area.

Anybody with information was asked to call 911.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Nailea Leon contributed to this report.

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