PHOENIX — A person has been arrested in a string of shootings dubbed the Serial Street Shooter case, Phoenix police announced Monday.
The suspect is Aaron Juan Saucedo, who was charged last month with a first-degree murder in a killing that had not been connected to the serial shootings.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said it took “tens of thousands of hours to get this right” at a press conference announcing Saucedo’s arrest.
According to court documents, Saucedo allegedly shot and killed a person near Bethany Home Road and Seventh Street in Phoenix on Aug. 16, 2015.
During their investigation, police learned Saucedo sold a handgun at a local pawnshop on Sept. 1, 2015. A forensics test linked that gun to the shooting near Bethany Home Road and Seventh Street.
Saucedo faced 26 additional felony charges in addition to the aforementioned first-degree murder charge.
Saucedo is the same person who was declared a person of interest in the case last month.
Saucedo is the suspect in at least nine shootings across the Valley that left seven people dead and wounded two others. A reward as high as $75,000 was offered for information in the case.
Phoenix police have not connected a shooting to the killer in months.
The first shooting linked to the Serial Street Shooter happened on March 17, 2016, when a Nissan drove past two teenagers, pulled a U-turn and a man inside the vehicle opened fire, hitting a 16-year-old boy in the arm, abdomen and hip. The teen survived the attack.
In another attack, on July 11, 2016, a 21-year-old man and his 4-year-old nephew escaped injury after the gunman shot at a vehicle they were sitting in.
Police have said the victims were attacked as they stood outside their homes or sat in vehicles after dark. They were fired upon by someone who was sitting in a car or had just stepped out of a vehicle. Most of the killings took place in the city’s Maryvale section, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood on Phoenix’s west side.
Investigators don’t believe the attacks are racially motivated, though no motive has been established.
The victims include a 21-year-old man whose girlfriend was pregnant with their son and a 12-year-girl who was shot to death along with her mother and a friend of the woman.
Shortly after Saucedo was detained, both the Arizona Department of Public Safety and Phoenix Police Department confirmed that the former turned over all of its evidence from the Interstate 10 shooter case — including DPS’ case against one-time suspect Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. — to the latter.
The materials turned over to police included ballistics evidence.
However, Police Chief Jeri Williams said Monday that the I-10 and Serial Street Shooter cases are not linked.
After the rash of shootings, the suspect or suspects stopped suddenly. It’s not unusual for investigations into serial killers to stall, experts said.
“Sometimes these dry spells go on for years, but people shouldn’t mistake that for cases being dormant,” said Mary Ellen O’Toole, a former FBI profiler who directs George Mason University’s forensic science program.
It’s also not unusual for serial killers to disappear for a period after they take a life or lives, said Mike Rustigan, a professor emeritus of criminal justice at San Jose State University who has studied serial killers.
The killer may have gone “into a cooling-off period to lay low because he doesn’t want to get caught,” Rustigan said.
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