Here’s what Mesa police have learned about suspect in weekend killing spree

May 30, 2023, 10:28 AM | Updated: 1:56 pm

Booking photo for Iren Byers, the suspect in a murder spree in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, and Mesa ...

(Iren Byers - Mesa Police Department and Facebook/City of Mesa Police Department Photos)

(Iren Byers - Mesa Police Department and Facebook/City of Mesa Police Department Photos)

PHOENIX — With a suspect in custody, police are piecing together the details of a weekend killing spree in Mesa and Phoenix.

After Iren Byers, 20, was arrested Saturday in connection with four shootings in Mesa, he allegedly told police he also was responsible for a fatal shooting in Phoenix, a Mesa Police Department spokesman told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

“He admitted to all four. He admitted to having the murder weapon at his home. He directed us to where not only the murder weapon was, but where the clothing was that he wore when he committed all four of these shootings, and basically laid out the whole story for us,” Detective Richard Encinas said Tuesday morning.

“During that time, he also admitted to a fifth shooting that occurred on the 26th of May in Phoenix where that person was also killed.”

Encinas said Byers apparently met the victims at random and shot them when they said things that upset him.

“He’s claiming that when people are asking him if he wanted to get high on fentanyl, things like that, then it really upset him because his brother was using that type of drug, and that set him off,” Encinas said.

Byers told investigators that he did not call for medical aid for the victims because they “didn’t deserve it,” according to court documents.

The Phoenix victim, 41-year-old Nicholas Arnstad, was located next to a canal near 24th and Oak streets, south of Thomas Road, around 3:40 p.m. Friday, police said.

The first Mesa call came just before 10:30 that night after the body of 41-year-old Julian Cox was found at Beverly Park, near Main Street and Alma School Road.

Officers who were working the scene at the park heard shots fired and started searching the area. They found a 36-year-old woman with gunshot wounds about half a mile away, near Main and Stewart streets, west of Alma School Road, around 12:15 a.m. Saturday. She was taken to a hospital in stable condition with serious injuries, police said.

The next call, just before 1 a.m., came after 41-year-old Stephen Young was found dead outside a bus station near Country Club Drive at Second Avenue, between Main Street and Broadway Road.

Officers then blanketed the area and found the final known victim, 40-year-old John Swain, near Extension Road and Second Avenue just after 2 a.m.

Ballistics testing showed that shell casings from each scene came from the same 9mm handgun, police said. Investigators used eyewitness accounts and video evidence to identify Byers as the suspect.

Byers was located and arrested at his apartment near Extension Road and Main Street, about half a mile north of the final crime scene.

“Once we were able to locate him and conducted the interview, that’s when it turned into where he admitted to the whole thing,” Encinas said.

Byers was booked into jail on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

“Our thoughts and good wishes go out to all these families of all these victims,” Encinas said. “Senseless tragedy, senseless act of violence, but we were able to luckily get this case solved pretty quickly and take a pretty dangerous person off the street.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Shira Tanzer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Here’s what Mesa police have learned about suspect in weekend killing spree