ARIZONA NEWS

Person of interest in Phoenix Street Serial Shooter case in custody

Apr 21, 2017, 2:48 PM | Updated: 8:57 pm
A composite sketch of a possible suspect is shown. (Phoenix Police Department Photo)...
A composite sketch of a possible suspect is shown. (Phoenix Police Department Photo)
(Phoenix Police Department Photo)

PHOENIX — A person of interest in the Phoenix Street Serial Shooter case is in custody, multiple media outlets and sources close to KTAR News said.

A person of interest is not the same as a suspect.

The killer has been linked to 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.

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

The first shooting 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. All but one of the killings took place in the city’s Maryvale section, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood on Phoenix’s west side.

Investigators believe the crimes were carried out by a lanky Hispanic man in his early 20s, but they are leaving open the possibility that someone else may have participated in the attacks. They 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.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Person of interest in Phoenix Street Serial Shooter case in custody