Authorities release 911 calls in Phoenix freeway shootings

PHOENIX (AP) — Authorities on Thursday released audio from 911 calls made by people whose cars were hit by bullets during a string of Phoenix freeway shootings.

The calls include an injured 13-year-old girl who calmly told the dispatcher that she thought her mother's car had just been shot. In the Aug. 29 call released by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the teen said she heard a shot right before two windows in the family's Escalade broke.

"We don't know if it's a bullet. We just don't know. It's just my mom thought it was a bullet," the girl said while pulled over on Interstate 10.

The girl's mother, who can be heard crying in the background, was not hurt, but glass cut the teen in the ear. "It was just in my ear, but it didn't really hurt," the girl told the dispatcher.

David Garcia, who was driving a box truck on I-10 on Sept. 8, described hearing a "loud boom" before the glass in his driver's side window shattered.

"I just got glass all over my hair, my back, my body," Garcia said before declining medical attention. "I did not see anybody. I didn't see anything bouncing on the road that would just break my side window like that."

Phoenix residents have been rattled by a series of shootings on Interstate 10 between Aug. 22 and Sept. 10. Eight cars were hit with bullets, and three were struck with projectiles such as BBs or pellets, most while driving along Interstate 10, according to authorities.

Fear that a shooter was putting random cars in the crosshairs also drew several dead-end emergency calls. In the days following the four incidents at the end of August, 911 received several calls about suspicious motorists or windows that were shattered. One man from the southern Arizona city of Eloy said he thought he knew the vantage point the shooter would have used based on his studies of Google Earth images.

Calls also came from faraway states such as Colorado and Oregon, where people offered what they saw as potential leads from social media.

The Department of Public Safety arrested Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., 21, on Sept. 18 in connection with four of the 11 shootings. Ballistics tests tie him to those incidents, according to investigators. He pleaded not guilty in Maricopa County Superior Court last week.

Meanwhile, the other seven shootings remain under investigation.

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Follow Terry Tang on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ttangAP

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