DPS identifies suspected shooter in Peoria road rage incident

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and ADOT) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 and ADOT)
Arturo Pena (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arturo Pena (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: Arizona Department of Transportation) (Source: Arizona Department of Transportation)
(Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

The Department of Public Safety on Monday identified the man suspected of opening fire on another driver while on the Loop 101 in Peoria over the weekend.

Arturo Pena, 24, made his initial court appearance Sunday. A judge set a secured appearance bond of $50,000.

[WATCH RAW VIDEO: Arturo Pena's initial court appearance]

Pena, who, according to his court paperwork, is on active duty in the Army, and a woman were taken into custody after an after the incident on northbound Loop 101 beginning in the area of Northern Avenue Saturday afternoon.

[WATCH RAW VIDEO: DPS Capt. Tony Mapp explains what happened]

The victim, who was shot in the back of the neck, told investigators it started when a black pickup truck cut him off on the Loop 101. DPS later determined Pena was the driver of that truck.

"The victim stated the truck continued to cut in front of him and slow down causing him to press his [brakes]," according to court documents.

The victim, who was driving a gray Ford Mustang, said he tried to spray the truck with soda from a can but "he lost control of the can and wasn't sure whether or not it hit the truck."

The victim said the truck was on his passenger side when the driver's side window shattered and he felt a "sharp pain" in his neck. He then discovered that he was bleeding.

"The victim stated after the shot he veered into the vehicle to insure [sic] paint was transferred from his vehicle to the pickup truck," according to court documents.

The victim then pulled off the freeway and called 911.

Pena and his girlfriend provided DPS with a different version of events leading up to the shooting. They said it was the Mustang that cut them off, forcing Pena to hit the brakes to avoid a crash. They both said the Mustang cut off other vehicles, as well.

Pena's girlfriend said the driver of the Mustang threw something at them. Pena said he heard a bang but was not sure whether something had been thrown at them or if somebody had shot at them.

According to his probable cause for arrest statement, Pena said he sped up to get closer to the Mustang so that he could get its license plate number.

"Pena stated as he got closer to the vehicle he retrieved his gun from the center console and was going to attempt to 'scare' the driver of the Mustang," the statement reads. "Pena stated he fired one round in the direction of the Mustang."

Both Pena and his girlfriend said the Mustang hit them right after Pena fired.

Pena stopped in the Harkins parking lot at Park West at 99th and Northern avenues, where he and his girlfriend taken into custody without incident.

Pena, who has been released, is now facing charges of aggravated assault, endangerment and drive-by shooting.

Mapp said troopers and Peoria police officers were alerted to the situation by phone calls from several witnesses.

"State troopers and Peoria P.D. worked really well together and they both executed the stop of the [suspects'] vehicle," Mapp said.

Mapp said this kind of situation -- road rage on a freeway -- is particularly dangerous.

"When you're firing your weapon at 65 to 75 miles per hour, you're not really sure where that bullet is gonna land," he explained. "It could hit another vehicle. The person that was struck could lose control of the vehicle and crash into other vehicles."

"It doesn't matter where you're at -- Texas, they were in church -- you're not safe anywhere anymore," said Tina Ford, who was at the mall when troopers and police converged on it.

DPS has some simple advice for anyone who might find him or herself in a situation like this.

"We always tell people if you're in a situation where you think there's a potential for road rage or you're having a problem with another driver, take the next exit," Mapp said. "Don't continue to drive by them and continue in that situation. Exit it off the freeway and then call us or call 911."

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