Police are searching for a man who fired several shots into the air Thursday morning near a Tempe high school after a female student refused to get into his van.
School and police officials said a man in a blue Chevrolet Astro van had been driving through a neighborhood near Marcos de Niza High School, 6000 S. Lakeshore Drive, and asked a student if she wanted to go for a ride.
When she refused, the man drove away and the girl joined a group of students on their way to school, police said. Moments later, at 8:15 a.m., the students told police they heard several gunshots.
Police found six 9 mm shell casings.
A 16-year-old junior at Marcos de Niza, whom the Tribune is not identifying, said she and some friends were walking to class Thursday morning when they saw the van approach another group across the street about three times.
Each time, a man tried to coax a girl into the van, said Nicole Greason, spokeswoman for Tempe Union High School District. The last time, someone opened fire.
"My friends put their arms around me and we hit the ground, it was really scary," the student said.
The girl said she and her classmates reported the shooting to a security guard and administrators. Her parents have concerns about her continuing school there, she said.
Marcos de Niza and nearby elementary and middle schools sent letters home with students to alert parents.
Greason said campus security was stepped up after the shooting.
The driver of the van was described as Hispanic, age 20-25, brown eyes, a moustache and black hair covered by a hairnet.
Police said they will investigate whether Thursday's incident is related to an attempted abduction of a 17-year-old girl in September near McClintock High School. Three men attempted to pull the girl into their car near Juniper Street and Del Rio Drive in Tempe. The car was a blue two-door, possibly a Pontiac Grand Am. One man was described as Hispanic, about 20 years old with short black hair and a diamond earring in each ear. Another man was described as Hispanic, about 30 years old with a mustache, longer hair and a heavy build.
There was no description of the third man. Police ask anyone with information to call (480) 350-8311.
- Staff writer Daryl James contributed to this report.