Carjacking, shootings roar busy Phoenix-area freeway

PHOENIX – A man carjacked a driver at gunpoint in Phoenix then wounding two people, after the vehicle crashed on a busy Arizona highway, and he tried to command other cars to get away before he was shot and taken into custody, authorities said.

The chaos on Monday evening forced a nearly 12-hour closure of Interstate 17, the main road from Phoenix to Flagstaff — as the police investigation.

The road finally reopened early Tuesday.

Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Howard said it was amazing that more people were not hurt, given the gunshots and the potential for more traffic collisions.

“Things are much worse,” he said.

The police said the 31-year-old suspect, whose name was not released, was trying to get to Mexico when he saw the first victim and forced him to drive on the interstate that was already clogged with holiday traffic.

The vehicle crashed into the concrete dividers on the highway as the two men struggled over a gun and the steering wheel, the Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Howard said.

The driver ran away without injury when his vehicle was disabled in the crash.

Howard said that the shooter tried to steal at least three cars at gunpoint after the collision brought traffic to a near halt.

The driver of a van was shot for managing to drive. His injuries were not life-threatening.

The police said that the suspect also jumped on the hood of a car and the driver was shot, causing the car to collide with another vehicle. The injuries sustained by the driver were in critical but not life-threatening.

Officers initially thought they were responding to a traffic collision but soon learned the crash was bound to be something more serious.

Finally, the officers of the Arizona Department of Public Safety confronted the suspect after he climbed up on the side of the interstate and tried to steal other vehicles. Two officers fired shots, wounding the suspect.

The man, who suffered serious injuries, is expected to be booked on charges related to the shooting and carjacking attempts after he is released from a hospital.

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