Deputies with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department have arrested three Mesa teenagers for copycat crimes related to the recent string of freeway shootings.
Just before 7:00 p.m. Saturday night, a man called 911 to report that his vehicle had been hit by an unknown object while he was driving in Queen Creek, according to Joe Arpaio with MCSO.
Arpaio says, the vehicle driver and passenger, both from Mesa, told deputies that the incident happened while they were stopped at the intersection of Queen Creek and Ellsworth. When the light turned green, the projectile shattered their rear driver’s side window.
The victims were not injured, according to Arpaio.
As the suspect vehicle sped away, the victims took pictures and the vehicle and the license plate.
Deputies contacted the Mesa Police Department and discovered that another similar incident had occurred near Ellsworth Road and State Route 24 approximately 10-20 minutes earlier, said Arpaio.
The victim in that situation provided a vehicle and incident description identical to the Queen Creek events.
Deputies then called the Arizona Department of Public Safety and provided the details of the two incidents.
Due to the circumstances, all three agencies collaborated on the investigation.
Both DPS Director Frank Milstead and Sheriff Joe Arpaio believe that these acts are the work of copy cats.
The suspect vehicle was located in a Chandler neighborhood near Ocotillo and Cooper Road.
The driver of the vehicle was later identified as 18-year-old Aaron Nottingham of Mesa.
Nottingham admitted involvement in the incident and identified two other suspects, including 18-year-old Albert German of Mesa and 18-year-old Christian Cook.
Detectives eventually contacted German and Cook in the Mesa area. Both suspects admitted involvement and explained that they had been driving around the Mesa and Queen Creek area sometime last night randomly firing projectiles at pedestrians and vehicles, said Arpaio.
According to German, Cook, and Nottingham they were using a sling shot device to propel ½ -3/4 inch crushed granite landscaping rock at approximately 10 pedestrians and 4 other vehicles, according to Arpaio.
Evidence of the rock was found in the victim’s vehicle.
All three suspects were charged with assault, endangerment and criminal damage.
Another individual, an 18 year old male, is being investigated for charges related to this event, according to Arpaio.