A man being questioned about the recent string of Phoenix-area freeway shootings has been arrested and booked into jail on unrelated drug charges, the AZ Republic reported Friday.
Authorities identified the “person of interest” as Oscar de la Torre Munoz, 19, of Avondale, and said he was being held at Fourth Avenue Jail on suspicion of marijuana possession.
On Friday afternoon, Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) spokesman Bart Graves said investigators were talking to Munoz and searching his vehicle. “We’re just talking to him about a number of things, quite possibly this investigation,” he said.
According to Fox News, Munoz allegedly “boasted to friends of his involvement” in the shootings, although police say he is also wanted in connection with other crimes.
Multiple undercover units and marked patrol cars boxed in the man’s SUV and wrestled him to the ground as he exited the store. Minutes later he spoke to Fox affiliate KSAZ through the back window of a patrol car.
“I had just gotten cigarettes…when I got in the truck they rammed me, threw me on the ground and my mom, they haven’t told us nothing,” the man said. “They haven’t told us nothing. I kept asking, they said, ‘I can’t tell you anything.’ I have a messed-up back, I had three back surgeries.
They laid me on the ground and my face is still swollen, busted lip.”
Sources say police will attempt to develop enough information to obtain a search warrant for his home and car. Any weapons located could help match ballistics evidence gathered from vehicles hit by gunfire.
Assuming the police have the right man in custody, the roads may still not be entirely safe for commuters. Arizona DPS Director Frank Milstead told reporters Friday that he believes there is more than one perpetrator “because of distinct factors involved.”
“It does not appear to be the same guy,’’ Milstead told The Arizona Republic. “I think we have three MOs. We have one that looks like road rage, we have the bullet ones, we have the projectile ones.’’
In Kansas City last year, police linked at least 12 highway shootings to the same .380-caliber gun before they arrested Mohammed Pedro Whitaker, who has pleaded not guilty.
In northern Colorado,police are still searching for a highway shooter who fired on drivers and pedestrians from April to June of this year.