A court document unsealed last week by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge draws a straight line from suspect Aaron Saucedo to murders and drive-by shootings attributed to the “Serial Street Shooter.”
The document, known as a Form IV, is a statement by law enforcement explaining why investigators feel they have probable cause to refer a case to prosecutors for charges.
Saucedo, 23, is charged with first-degree murder in the August 2015 shooting of Raul Romero, ostensibly the boyfriend of Saucedo’s mother’s. Interestingly, the Romero murder was mentioned to police while they were already investigating Saucedo in the “Street Shooter” attacks.
Subsequently, Phoenix police have referred Saucedo for prosecution in eight other murders, as well as aggravated assaults, drive-by shootings and other crimes related to 11 shooting incidents in 2015 and 2016. Those charges are under review by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Saucedo has professed his innocence and entered a not guilty plea to the murder he has been charged with.
None of his family members have been willing to speak when contacted by The Arizona Republic. However, some community members have expressed concern about whether he is being treated fairly.
So far, based on their analysis of the evidence, police spokesmen give the impression that the “Street Shooter” was a lone wolf picking his victims at random as he shot from a car.
But as in most violent criminal cases, eyewitnesses gave varying accounts of what may or may not have happened in the “Street Shooter” attacks. Perceptions can be distorted by fear and excitement and confusion. People don’t always see what they think they see. And law enforcement can sometimes have tunnel vision as officers toil to solve a crime and take a menace off the street.
Months of detective work
The straight line to Saucedo is the result of months of detective work.
The raw police reports, however, take a more circuitous route. They are heavily but imperfectly redacted, and they show numerous loose ends and probable dead ends followed down by Phoenix police detectives.
Was the shooter alone?
According to records of at least three shootings, witnesses referred to or implied there were multiple occupants of the cars doing drive-by shootings. In one of them, a hand with a gun is described coming out of a rear window. It would be difficult to shoot that way from the driver’s seat. In another, the attacker was described as being 30 to 35 years old. Saucedo is very young looking.
Drugs show up at many of the incidents in one way or another.
At least two of the dead had drug convictions, and another two had evidence of marijuana or pills in their possession at the time of their deaths. Furthermore, in a number of cases, close relatives of the victims had drug or other criminal convictions.
There were so many cars.
When police published a revised composite drawing of the suspect they were looking for, they included a photo of an older black BMW sedan, which came from the last known shooting, in June 2016. According to recent court records, a similar car was seen on a homeowner’s surveillance video after that attack. Police reports clearly state that detectives sought and obtained surveillance video from many sources. So far, they haven’t revealed what else came from them.
But Saucedo did own a black BMW, and a court document indicates he admitted to police that he had stopped driving it. In the court document, police also described a gray Hyundai owned by Saucedo that matched the description from some of the crime scenes.
But the reports also describe a white Cadillac or Lincoln, a dark SUV, a Nissan Maxima or a Chevy Malibu as being seen by witnesses.
Furthermore, perhaps coincidentally, police found stolen cars parked on the streets near two of the murders.
The attacks seem personal.
The shooter came within feet or inches of his victims before he pulled the trigger, looking them right in the eyes, according to witnesses spoken to by The Arizona Republic.
In some accounts, he got out of the car to get even closer, once putting his gun inside a car filled with people. Another time, he got out of the car to kick the man he had just shot.
In one instance, according to police reports, the girlfriend of a victim came home after his murder to the apartment they shared and found it had been ransacked, with personal papers stolen and graffiti scrawled on the wall.
If Aaron Saucedo is indeed the “Street Shooter,” one of the victims was his mother’s boyfriend. It doesn’t get much more personal than that.
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