The police investigation into the case dubbed the Serial Street Shooter appeared to have stalled recently — leads and information about the case had dwindled.
From August 2015 to July 2016, someone was gunning down victims after dark in a largely Latino neighborhood of Phoenix as they stood outside homes or sat in cars.
On Monday, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams and Mayor Greg Stanton appeared with Maricopa County officials to announce there had been a break in the case.
Police last month had arrested a former city bus driver in the killings, 23-year-old Aaron Juan Saucedo, who faces 26 felony counts of homicide, aggravated assault and drive-by-shooting for 12 shootings.
“This case plagued our community for more than a year … and left behind a trail of victims that included mothers, sons, brothers, sisters and families still mourning the loss of their loved ones,” Williams said at a news conference.
The Associated Press reports:
“The case finally broke when Saucedo was arrested last month in connection with the August 2015 fatal shooting of a man, 61-year-old Raul Romero, who had a relationship with Saucedo’s mother. Authorities investigated Saucedo more closely and connected him to the serial killings.
“Police say that after Romero’s killing, Saucedo struck again about four months later in killing 22-year-old Jesse Olivas, who was gunned down on New Year’s Day 2016 while standing in front of a home.
“The suspect then went on a killing spree from March of last year through July, police said.
“In the end, nine people were killed in 12 separate shootings. All of the killings were random except for the first one, Williams said. ‘We hope that our community will rest a little easier and that our officers will get a little more sleep knowing that the wheels of justice are finally in motion,’ she said.”
In July, police released a sketch of the suspected shooter and the apparent end to the shootings was attributed to the media push.
Lydia Lopez, the mother of Jesse Olivas, said she suspected her son’s death was connected to the Serial Street Shooter. He was killed months before most of the other victims.
She told The Arizona Republic:
” ‘I had a gut feeling it was him,’ she told paper on Monday.
” ‘Look,’ she said, holding up a flier of the shooter’s sketch and vehicle. ‘I’ve had this on my refrigerator. … Every day I would just pass by and touch it and pray, “Lord get him. … Stop him from hurting other families.” ‘ ”
Authorities say they don’t know the motive behind the shootings.