UPDATE

A 'person of interest' in freeway shootings makes initial court appearance

Posted: Updated:
Oscar de la Torre Munoz (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Oscar de la Torre Munoz (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Source:KPHO/KTVK) (Source:KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: Arizona Department of Public Safety) (Source: Arizona Department of Public Safety)
Investigators have confirmed 11 incidents in the last two weeks, mostly shootings and some projectiles. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Investigators have confirmed 11 incidents in the last two weeks, mostly shootings and some projectiles. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
Oscar de la Torre Munoz, 19, makes an initial appearance early Saturday morning. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) Oscar de la Torre Munoz, 19, makes an initial appearance early Saturday morning. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
AVONDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A person of interest detained Friday for questioning into a string of Phoenix-area freeway shootings made an initial appearance early Saturday morning and was booked on an unrelated drug charge.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said troopers detained Oscar de la Torre Munoz, 19, for questioning Friday. 

All DPS has said about Munoz is that he is from Avondale, and he has been booked on a drug charge  - possession of marijuana - unrelated to the shootings. The agency has not said what led investigators to Munoz, but emphasized that its investigation is not closed and that Munoz is only one person to whom investigators are speaking.

[RELATED: Police question man in freeway shootings]

[Raw video: DPS briefing on freeway shootings detainee]

"All I saw was cops rolling up on the store and then they started putting tape up and made everybody go away," said a witness who saw the massive police presence in the parking lot of a Chevron Gas station in Avondale. 

The commotion lasted only minutes. 

"There were a lot of cars a lot of police, marshals, DPS, police department and SWAT a lot of officers right there," Marco Mansilla said. 

The potential break in the 1-10 shootings case came right around 11 a.m. Friday near 107th Avenue and Indian School, less than 24 hours after several motorists reported that their cars may have been shot at along Valley freeways.

[SHARE A TIP OR REPORT AN INCIDENT: Click/tap to call now from your mobile device]

Stopping short of announcing an arrest, Trooper Jason Seeger reported the man detained for questioning might have information on the freeway shootings. 

"We are doing our due diligence to make sure the shooter is in custody and when that is we don't know yet," Seeger said. 

[RELATED: Freeway drivers still asked to be vigilant]

The shootings have terrorized Valley drivers for the past couple of weeks. 

Investigators have confirmed 11 incidents in the last two weeks, mostly shootings and some projectiles. 

[INFOGRAPHIC: Freeway shootings by date]

[SLIDESHOW: AZ freeway shootings]

According to DPS, Munoz was a passenger in a Chevy Tahoe. While he was being questioned, authorities spent the day sweeping the SUV for any clues. 

"We are checking it for evidence, going through it with a fine-tooth comb, and it has been seized for evidence," Graves said.  

Friday's development is welcome news for commuters who drive the Valley's freeways every day.

"We're really happy - really happy - that they are doing their job and taking care of us," driver Josie Duarte said. 

Investigators said they are interviewing a lot of people in connection with the 1-10 shootings. Many of those interviews stemmed from tips from the public.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Freeway shootings]

DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead and Gov. Doug Ducey have been appealing to the public all week for help solving the case. 

In addition to the tipline, a dedicated 24-hour crisis hotline has been activated for people who are anxious about the freeway shootings.

"It's a normal reaction to stressors like this that occur that are completely out of the blue and unexpected," Joel Conger, the director of crisis services at Mercy Maricopa said. "That's how we are here to help, to help folks talk through their fears, their concerns, their anxieties."

That hotline number is 1-800-203-2273.

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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