The Arizona Republic reporter Megan Cassidy sums up the press conference held at Phoenix police headquarters announcing the arrest of the suspect in the “Serial Street Shooter” case on May 8, 2017. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
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Phoenix police have arrested Aaron Saucedo in connection with the “Serial Street Shooting” case.
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Phoenix police released this recording of a 911 call made by a victim of the so-called ‘serial street shooter’ in a July 11, 2016, incident — the latest in the string of unsolved shootings.
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Teresa Anderson explains what it’s like to live in the Maryvale area where fatal shootings have occurred. Video by Patrick Breen/azcentral.com
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A 16-year-old boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while walking in the 1000 block of East Moreland Street. Police say this shooting is the first in a string of shootings attributed to the Phoenix “serial street shooter.”
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On March 18, about 11:30 p.m., a 21-year-old man suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while standing outside of his vehicle in the 4300 block of North 73rd Avenue. This is a 911 call made shortly after the incident.
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Republic reporters Megan Cassidy and Michael Kiefer talk about a recent update in the “serial street shooter” case. Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
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At a press conference held at the Phoenix Police Department, the Mayor of Phoenix and members of law enforcement asked for public help in solving the serial shooter case. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com
Tom Tingle/ azcentral.com
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Thomas Braxton, 47, discusses the “serial street shooter” who has been connected to a ninth shooting incident, in the 3000 block of Oak Street. Adrian Hedden/azcentral
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The Phoenix Police Department met with members of the community on Wednesday, July 6, 2016.
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Sharon Layton talks about the night Angela Linner, Stefanie Ellis and Maleah Ellis were shot and describes how she and family members tried to help. David Kadlubowski/azcentral.com
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According to police, four shootings committed in west Phoenix are likely connected to the same shooter or shooters. Megan Cassidy and Thomas Hawthorne/azcentral.com
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Police are asking for the public’s help in solving a string of unsolved murders in west Phoenix, including three shootings in the first two weeks of June.
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Reporter Megan Cassidy on Phoenix ‘Serial Street Shooter’ arrest
Phoenix police arrest suspect in ‘Serial Street Shooter’ case
911 call: The latest Phoenix ‘serial street shooter’ victim calm after shooting
Maryvale resident talks about violence
911 call: The first attack attributed to the ‘serial street shooter’
911 call: The second ‘serial street shooter’ incident
‘Serial street shooter’ case
Law enforcement asks for public help in serial shooter case
Neighbor comments on ‘serial street shooter’
Maryvale community meeting
‘We just don’t know why they did it’
Police: 5 west Phoenix homicides likely connected
Phoenix police seek public help to solve string of murders
Police say the shooter struck 12 times between August 2015 and July 2016, killing 9 people and wounding 2 others.
After weeks of speculation and unconfirmed reports, Phoenix police on Monday officially announced a suspect in the “Serial Street Shootings” case that terrorized the Phoenix area for four months in 2016.
Aaron Juan Saucedo, who was initially arrested April 19 in connection with a fatal shooting in 2015, was re-booked into a Maricopa County jail on Monday and is now facing 26 charges related to the serial shootings, police said.
Duringthe announcement Monday afternoon, Police Chief Jeri Williams said at least two additional murders, including the 2015 shooting, had been linked to the serial shootings, bringing the death toll to nine. And she said investigators recently added to the series an incident in August 2015, when shots were fired into a house but no one was hurt. That brings the total number of shootings to 12.
Williams said tips from the community — about 33,000 in all — ultimately led police to Saucedo.
“We hope that our community will rest a little easier and that our officers will get a little more sleep (knowing) that our wheels of justice are finally in motion at work,” she said.
Last month, Saucedo was arrested and held on a $750,000 bond in the shooting death of 61-year-old Raul Romero on Aug. 16, 2015. Romero had been dating Saucedo’s mother at the time of his death.
Police on Monday linked Romero’s death to the “Serial Street Shootings,” as well as the shooting death of 22-year-old Jesse Olivas, who was killed in a drive-by shooting Jan. 1, 2016.
Unlike Romero, the rest of the victims seemed to be picked at random. They were visiting family, returning home from work or lounging in their yards when they were gunned down by a phantom assailant.
Witnesses and surviving victims described a slender, young Hispanic man but couldn’t agree on a vehicle. Police said it was possible that the killer had access to multiple cars but circulated a stock photo of one vehicle a witness described in detail: a black BMW 5 series, late 1990s to early 2000s.
Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Howard said police have not yet identified a motive but indicated that Saucedo has given at least some incriminating statements to police.
When asked why activity appeared to cease in July, Howard pointed to Phoenix police’s media push in getting the description of the shooter’s appearance and vehicle out to the public. It was then that Saucedo decided to change his appearance and stop driving his BMW, Howard said Saucedo told investigators.
Howard said a “wide host of evidence” linked Saucedo to the series of shootings, including ballistics, surveillance, witnesses and other forensic evidence.
“It goes on and on,” he said, but did not divulge more details because the investigation is ongoing.
Howard said the $75,000 reward offered in the case will be given to the tipster or tipsters who led police to Saucedo. They will remain anonymous through the city’s Silent Witness program.
The case is now in the hands of Maricopa County prosecutors, who will make the official charging decisions.
“We will review all the evidence submitted to see which charges to charge the suspect with … to make sure we have a case that we will prosecute successfully and hold the individuals accountable for the harm made to the community,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton commended the Phoenix Police Department for “carefully and methodically” working the case.
“Our officers didn’t rest,” Stanton said. “Investigators worked every lead. They followed the evidence. They had a clear mission: Get the killer to justice and get it right.”
At the time of his arrest, Saucedo was living in the 4600 block of North 10th Street in Phoenix, according to court records. Two investigators were outside the home when Arizona Republic reporters showed up last month but would not confirm the reason for their presence.
Joe Guzman, a neighbor across the street, spoke briefly to Republic reporters that same day. He said he didn’t know Saucedo but was acquainted with his mother, Maria. He remembered Aaron Saucedo speeding up and down the street and noted that, a few days earlier, police had seized Saucedo’s car, a black BMW.
Police said Saucedo sold a Hi-Point 9 mm handgun to a pawn shop on Sept. 1, 2015, 16 days after Romero was murdered. The gun was purchased by a new owner on June 28, 2016.
If the gun was in the pawn shop this whole time, it would rule it out of all but one of the incidents tied to the serial shooter.
There are few records of Saucedo in Arizona, criminal or otherwise. Neighbors said he had been living at the North 10th Street residence since he was a boy, and yearbook photos show he attended North High School in Phoenix his freshman and sophomore years. The yearbooks give no indications that Saucedo participated in any high school clubs or activities.
A Phoenix Union High School District representative confirmed that Saucedo transferred to Central High School by his junior year, but the district has no records for him thereafter. This could mean he dropped out or transferred to another district.
Saucedo’s lone footprint on the state’s justice system prior to the Romero charge — a red-light ticket in September 2015 — provides one piece of his work history. At the time, Saucedo was a public-bus driver. A red-light photo of the incident shows a relaxed, 20-year-old Saucedo wearing neon green sunglasses and gripping the bus’ steering wheel.
The city of Phoenix does not directly employ bus drivers, but rather contracts with two private companies, First Transit and Transdev.
In court records from Saucedo’s initial arrest April 19, Saucedo reported that he was employed full-time working in “labor” at a company called Re-Bath. A representative at Re-Bath said Saucedo worked at one of the temp agencies used by the company.
One of two victims who survived after being shot by the serial shooter said investigators visited him last month to show him a photo lineup.
The victim, who was 21 at the time of the shooting, said he didn’t really recognize anyone in the lineup but stressed that the shooting was more than a year ago. He said he “pointed out some things” that might help police.
“I really don’t care anymore, to be honest with you,” he said.
The Republic has and will continue to withhold the victim’s identity.
Another whose car was shot at said police visited him to show him a lineup, as well. He also seemed uncertain about the suspect’s identity.
“There was like, six of them that he showed me,” he said. “It was hard to put a finger on it, because it’s exactly like … it was so generic, I couldn’t really put a finger and say, ‘Yeah, it’s that (guy) for sure.’ “
The victim said he pointed out more than one person in the photo lineup. But when The Republic showed him a picture of Saucedo, he said he didn’t think he was one of the men he picked.
“My mind is all over the place. My body is in shock,” Sylvia Ellis said. “I’m trying to get myself together.”
Ellis lost two loved ones to the serial shooter: her daughter Stefanie Ellis and 12-year-old granddaughter, Maleah. Ellis said she was walking home Monday morning when she saw a patrol vehicle parked outside her home.
She recognized the detectives as they approached. They told her an arrest had been made.
“They said they couldn’t give me a lot of details, as it’s still an active case,” Ellis said. “But they wanted me to find out from them and not the news. I know that when the right time comes for them to share more details, they will.”
As for the suspect, Ellis said she had never heard of Saucedo. Her family didn’t know him either, she said.
Frequents texts and calls came to the grieving mother and grandmother as family and friends quickly learned of the arrest. She was waiting for her husband, Dossie Ellis Sr., to get home to tell him the news.
“I’m not sure if he knows yet,” Syliva Ellis said, her voice cracking. “I’m sure he’ll be walking through the door any minute now.”
She also planned to make a call to Nancy Pena, the mother of another victim.
Pena had reached out to her last summer. The two women have yet to meet in person, but they grieve the loss of their children together, often speaking on the phone, Ellis said.
“Right now, I’ve got to collect all my feelings first,” she said, taking a deep breath.
The shooter struck 12 times between August 12, 2015, and July 11, 2016, killing nine people and wounding two more.
The first two shootings took place just east of Seventh Street between Camelback and Bethany Home roads, within a five-minute drive of Saucedo’s home.
Seven of the attacks were in the west Phoenix community of Maryvale, in an area roughly between McDowell Road on the south to Camelback Road on the north, stretching from 55th Avenue west to 73rd Avenue.
Three other attacks took place in east-central Phoenix, two of them within a stone’s throw of 32nd Street — one near Oak Street and the other near Fillmore Street. The third attack occurred south of Banner University Medical Center-Phoenix, in a neighborhood just south of Interstate 10.
All of the shootings were in residential neighborhoods with predominantly Hispanic populations where most residents are Spanish-language dominant.
Though police specifically underscored the BMW sedan, witnesses described several cars, including a long white Cadillac or Lincoln, a dark Nissan Maxima or Chevrolet Malibu, a light-colored four-door car and a dark car with “triangle-shaped” headlights.
The crimes police have tied together:
- On August 12, 2015, shots were fired at a home in the 900 block of East Colter Street. No one was injured.
- On August 16, 2015, about 10 p.m., 61-year-old Raul Romero was shot and killed outside his vehicle in the 900 block of East Montebello Avenue.
- On Jan. 1, 2016, about 12:45 a.m., 22-year-old Jesse Olivas was shot and killed outside a home in the 2800 block of North 58th Drive.
- On March 17, 2016, about 11:30 p.m., a 16-year-old boy suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while walking in the 1100 block of East Moreland Street.
- On March 18, 2016, about 11:30 p.m., a 21-year-old man suffered non-life-threatening injuries after being shot while standing outside of his vehicle in the 4300 block of North 73rd Avenue.
- On April 1, 2016, about 9 p.m., 21-year-old Diego Verdugo-Sanchez was shot and killed outside a home near the 5500 block of West Turney Avenue.
- On April 19, 2016, about 4:30 a.m., the body of 55-year-old Krystal Annette White was discovered near the 500 block of North 32nd Place. She died of apparent gunshot wounds.
- On June 3, 2016, about 9:50 p.m., 32-year-old Horacio De Jesus Pena was fatally shot while outside a home in the 6700 block of West Flower Street.
- On June 10, 2016, about 9:30 p.m., 19-year-old Manuel Castro Garcia was fatally shot outside a home near the 6500 block of West Coronado Road.
- On June 12, 2016, about 2:35 a.m., an unoccupied vehicle was discovered shot in the 6200 block of West Mariposa Drive.
- On June 12, 2016, about 3 a.m., a gunman opened fire on two women and one girl seated in a parked car outside a home near the 6300 block of West Berkeley Road. Angela Linner, 31, and Maleah Ellis, 12, died almost immediately. Maleah’s mother, Stefanie Ellis, died three weeks later.
- On July 11, 2016, during evening hours, a gunman shot at a vehicle in a residential neighborhood at 30th and Sheridan streets. A 24-year-old man and 4-year-old boy were in the vehicle, but neither was injured.
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