Mom of suspect in 'copycat' incident: 'They weren't trying to hurt anyone'

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Aaron Nottingham (left), Albert Elijah German (middle) and Christian Cook (right) (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Aaron Nottingham (left), Albert Elijah German (middle) and Christian Cook (right) (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
"My son has never hurt anyone; he's not that kind of person," said Michele German, the mother of one of the "copycat" suspects. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) "My son has never hurt anyone; he's not that kind of person," said Michele German, the mother of one of the "copycat" suspects. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead & Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a news conference Sunday afternoon (Source: KPHO/KTVK) DPS Director Col. Frank Milstead & Sheriff Joe Arpaio at a news conference Sunday afternoon (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office arrested three 18-year-olds who allegedly targeted vehicles using a slingshot over the weekend.

Aaron Nottingham, Albert Elijah German and Christian Cook, all three of whom have been on suspicion of assault, endangerment and criminal damage, were not involved in the Interstate 10 shootings that have kept the city on edge for weeks. But Col. Frank Milstead, director of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, described what they're accused of as a "copycat crime."

[RELATED: Freeway shootings investigation continues in wake of arrests in 'copycat crime']

[RAW VIDEO: DPS, MCSO briefing on slingshot shooting arrests]

Around 7 p.m. on Saturday, the sheriff's office received a call from a person saying his vehicle’s driver-side rear window had been knocked out. A car next to the vehicle sped off and the driver was able to get a clear picture of the license plate.  

The incident took place at the intersection of Queen Creek and Ellsworth roads.  A similar incident was reported near State Route 24 and Ellsworth Road.

Eventually, the suspect's vehicle was found in a neighborhood in Chandler and the three young men were arrested.  

German's mother, Michele, said her son would never want to harm anybody.  

"I don't care what anybody says, they weren’t trying to hurt anyone," she said. "I know that; I know my son better than that."

Michele said detectives and deputies arrived at her home at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday. When they asked about her son, she said she did not know he was out with his friends. 

During questioning, the young men told investigators that they shot crushed granite landscaping rock at about 10 people and five vehicles.

"Yes, the kids are stupid," Michele said. "There was no intent to hurt anyone. My son has never hurt anyone; he's not that kind of person."

Michele said her son didn’t even know about the I-10 shooting investigation.  

"He said, 'Mom, I am sorry. I never meant for any of this to happen or for anyone to get hurt,'" she said. 

The I-10 shootings are raising tensions around the Valley.

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Amber Uptegrobe, a Mesa resident and a mother, said she is nervous driving on the freeway. 

"It's scary because we have our kid in the car and when the weather is nice, we drive with the windows down," she said. "What if it came through the window? And with copycats, you don’t know where to look or what to look for. There's not going to be a pattern, so it's scary."

As for Saturday evening's slingshot incidents, Michele German wants to apologize to the victims and says her son plans to do the same. 

"I apologize to the family from the bottom of my heart," she said. 

A fourth 18-year-old male is under investigation in connection with the Saturday night's copycat crimes.

Law-enforcement officials said the arrests of Nottingham, German and Cook should serve as a warning to anyone who even considers trying to copy the freeway shootings.

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

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