Officials: Phoenix freeway shooting case still not closed despite recent arrest

Sep 22, 2015, 6:00 AM

A sign still displays a shooter tip line above Interstate 10, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. A...

A sign still displays a shooter tip line above Interstate 10, Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Phoenix. Authorities have a person of interest in custody in a string of freeway shootings over the past two weeks and the man's white Chevrolet Tahoe, raising hopes of a resolution to the rash of freeway shootings rattling the metro area. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Officials at the Arizona Department of Public Safety want drivers to know the freeway shooter case is not closed as of Monday.

While the prime suspect in at least four of the 11 incidents involving bullets or projectiles striking cars on a freeway is behind bars, Arizona State Troopers are still asking the public to keep watch for suspicious activity.

DPS Spokesperson Bart Graves said the public service announcement providing the Interstate 10 shooter hotline will remain lit up as long as investigators work to tie loose ends.

“We are trying to wrap up all of the loose ends regarding all of the other things that occurred in the last couple of weeks and so for that reason the overhead freeway signs will be lit for the time being,” he said. “That’s what we want, anything and everything that would be helpful to our investigation.”

According to the DPS spokesperson, there have been fewer tips related to the freeway shootings since the arrest of Leslie Allen Merritt Jr.

Several school districts in the Valley have advised their school bus drivers to continue to avoid freeways.

Marvene Lobato with the Fowler Elementary School District Superintendent said school district officials have decided to remain off of the freeways in order to fully protect students and staff.

“We do not want any student or any staff member to be injured,” she said. “We believe in providing the safety for these children and our staff and so therefore it is in their best interest that we just refrain from using the freeways.”

Arizona State University is also continuing to keep student shuttles off the valley freeways. The university released this statement regarding the matter:

“As far as the ASU shuttle routes, we have not changed our posture and continue to use alternate routes.”

The shootings began late morning Aug. 29, when an SUV heading east on I-10 near 19th Avenue was hit by a bullet. The last confirmed shooting occurred on Sept. 10, when at least two vehicles were hit by a projectile, bringing the total to 11 incidents involving bullets or projectiles.

Drivers and residents with tips related to the freeway shootings are asked to call the DPS I-10 shooter hotline at (602) 644-5805.

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Officials: Phoenix freeway shooting case still not closed despite recent arrest