After a Department of Public Safety (DPS) officer was shot in the face during a routine traffic stop on October 8, the first Arizona Blue Alert was issued, informing residents and the media of the attack and the five suspects who were still on the loose.
The National Blue Alert System is activated when an officer has been killed or seriously injured. The alert disseminates specific information about suspected offenders statewide, including descriptions of the vehicle, license plate and people involved when officials determine that threats to the public and law enforcement still exist.
Arizona authorities pointed to the system as a vital tool in gathering information in the investigation, stating that the blue alert had led to a tip soon after the alert was issued.
“We got calls from citizens who were out there, and they were paying attention,” Phoenix Police Spokesman James Holmes told the Arizona Republic.
Authorities said they later found the suspects’ vehicle at an abandoned house near 29th Avenue and Pima.
In July, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law House Bill 2323, making Arizona the 19th state to have a Blue Alert system. In total, 20 states now use a Blue Alert system to inform the public of an attack on an officer, The National Blue Alert System reports.
Arizona’s first blue alert came after an Arizona officer stopped a vehicle with tinted windows at 3:30 a.m. on Oct. 8 near I-17 and McDowell Road. While talking with the passengers, someone inside the vehicle opened fire and shot the officer twice in the face, ABC 15 said.
Two officers were called for backup and were shot at, but not injured, by the suspects who police identified as two men and three women in a blue 2008 Mercury Sable with Kansas license plates.
Read more about this case here.
Police said, according to ABC 15, that the suspects fled the scene, and within 40 minutes, Arizona’s first ever Blue Alert was issued where electronic highway signs around the state administered the alert, listing details of the car.
The injured officer underwent surgery and the hospital reports the 6-year DPS veteran is in stable condition, ABC 15 said.
Police are currently searching for the attackers.