Did Maryvale equal fewer headlines in the Serial Street Shooter case?

May 9, 2017, 12:28 PM | Updated: May 10, 2017, 11:16 am
In this July 27, 2016, file photo, Phoenix neighborhood patrol officers Maribel Diaz Lopez, left, a...

In this July 27, 2016, file photo, Phoenix neighborhood patrol officers Maribel Diaz Lopez, left, and Mario Ocampo walk a Maryvale neighborhood street in Phoenix, Ariz., to hand out an artist rendering of a suspected serial killer, as shown on the light pole, and block watch flyers. (AP Photo/Matt York, File)

(AP Photo/Matt York, File)

Did we, the media, drop the ball – even a little bit – in regards to this Serial Street Shooter case?

Did we not warn the public enough? Did we keep the story in the spotlight enough?

If we didn’t, was it because of the worst reasons? 

As I’m sure you know, police have 23-year-old Aaron Saucedo in custody.

He’s facing more than two dozen counts — including murder — for allegedly terrifying the Maryvale section of Phoenix for months by killing random, innocent victims. 

The word that gives me the most pause in the previous paragraph is Maryvale. That part of the city is a lower middle class area populated mostly by Hispanic and African-American families — good people who just don’t have a whole lot of money. 

Which leads me to this question: Did the media (me included) not pay as much attention to these awful, random murders as we should have because of where the victims lived? 

I was a street reporter in Phoenix back in 2006, the last time we had someone driving around randomly shooting and killing people on the streets of the Valley (I’m not counting the Interstate 10 Shooter because he, thankfully, didn’t kill anyone).

I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t hear, or actually report, a story about the Serial Shooters, as they were known back then. 

Does it just feel like more attention was paid to those murders because (as a news reporter) I was closer to the action? Was there actually more coverage because there was another serial killer case going on at the same time – the Baseline Killer

Certainly, more national media was involved because of the multiple-serial-killers angle of the story. I know that to be true because I was filing stories for CBS and Fox News at the time. 

But I still have to step back and ask myself: Did we, the media, pay more attention then because the murders were happening in places other than Maryvale? 

I’m really not trying to create controversy here. What I’m trying to do is a little soul searching on behalf of myself and Phoenix media. 

It would be much easier to search others’ souls and point fingers at other media outlets, some of which were very irresponsible in their lame attempts to tie the Serial Street Shooter to the I-10 Shooter case (including many eye-rolling “exclusives” that went nowhere). 

What’s much harder, though, is to look in my mirror and ask if did I did my job to the fullest — and if I didn’t, why? 

I don’t know if I will ever have the answer to that one. But if the answer is that I didn’t do right by my community, I might not want to know want to know what the answer to why is. 

All I do know is that I’m glad Phoenix police didn’t pay any attention to the income, the background or the color of the skin of the victims of the Serial Street Shooter. They simply made an arrest. 

Jim Sharpe

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Did Maryvale equal fewer headlines in the Serial Street Shooter case?