Kareem Jamal Martin.jpeg

Kareem Jahmal Martin

HOLBROOK—Kareem Jahmal Martin, 37, has been charged with three counts in Navajo County after an investigation about a Sept. 30 report of shots fired into three vehicles on Interstate 40 and an abandoned stolen car near Winslow. However, Martin was charged with non-violent offenses which raises a lot of questions, because the charges have nothing to do with the shootings. On Oct. 5, authorities charged Martin with theft of a vehicle, identity theft and simple possession of marijuana in an amount under two pounds. Martin is presumed by law to be innocent.

On Sept. 30, Arizona Department of Public Safety received a report of a man brandishing a weapon at a gas station in Gallup, New Mexico, who was apparently headed into Arizona. Shortly thereafter, DPS was contacted with reports that a driver of a white Dodge car with a blue stripe was shooting at vehicles on the I-40 freeway in Navajo County.

During the investigation, authorities took a report from a semi-truck driver with a bullet wound in the driver’s leg. The bullet had apparently travelled into and through the semi’s passenger door before hitting the driver. Two other vehicles were hit as well: Another semi truck with three occupants and a minivan with two occupants all traveling on the freeway. None of the passengers in the other two vehicles was hit.

Victims were able to provide a description of the shooter and his car. The next day, DPS troopers located a car which fit the given description near Winslow, and Martin was located nearby and arrested without incident. Apparently, the vehicle was reported stolen out of Georgia. Martin is from Charlotte, North Carolina.

It is unclear if authorities suspect that Martin was brandishing a gun in Gallup and was the shooter who injured the truck driver. He may have no connection to those incidents at all. On the other hand, if authorities believe that Martin was the shooter, it is possible that the investigation is ongoing and they brought the stated non-violent offenses to keep him off the street while law enforcement considers further charges.

Navajo County uses a grand jury, unlike Apache County which may not have the budget for one. The statute of limitations for most felonies in Arizona is seven years, so prosecutors have plenty of time to assemble evidence, present it to a grand jury and ask for an indictment. The case started out in Holbrook Justice Court and has since been transferred to the Navajo County Superior Court. As of press time, Martin is still being held in the county jail on the three charges stated; the amount of bond is unknown.

Hitting someone with a bullet usually brings a charge of some type of attempted homicide. Also, shots fired on the I-40 in that stretch usually involve drug dealers, say authorities, but the charges thus far do not charge Martin with transporting or possessing drugs for sale. Arizona law presumes the intent to sell drugs if the amount, in this case, of marijuana, is over two pounds, and Martin allegedly possessed less than that.

Further, if authorities believe that Martin was the suspect waving a gun around in public in New Mexico, that behavior doesn’t seem to fit the profile, developed by law enforcement, of an interstate drug dealer. Finally, the seemingly random, exceedingly reckless shootings suggest a crazed person possibly using amphetamines, rather than marijuana, but no dangerous drug possession charges have been filed against Martin, either.

Reach the reporter at rlynch@wmicentral.com

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