Family of shooting victims: Arrest bittersweet

Posted May 10, 2017

The gunman who terrorized Phoenix a year ago with a series of seemingly random shootings - killing nine people in four months - is behind bars, police said Monday.

After an investigation, however, police said they linked Saucedo, dubbed the "serial street shooter", to the random murders of eight others between August 2015 and July 2016.

Saucedo now faces a total nine separate murder charges.

From August 2015 to July 2016 the shootings terrorized the largely Hispanic community in Maryvale in Phoenix, Arizona.

All three were shot as they sat in a vehicle listening to music outside their Maryvale home in Phoenix, according to police.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said Tuesday more charges were possible in the case.

"Today is a good day in the city of Phoenix", Mayor Greg Stanton said on Monday (8 May).

Investigators say they do not know what led the suspect, Aaron Saucedo, 23, to launch his months-long shooting spree. Police say that unlike later victims, who appear to have been chosen at random, Romero had a personal connection to Saucedo: At the time he was killed, he was dating Saucedo's mother.

Manuel Castro Garcia, 19, was murdered outside his home on June 10, 2016. Saucedo has been booked on an additional 26 felony counts including homicide.

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Police said the killings were unrelated to a series of 2015 freeway shootings in Phoenix that terrified drivers.

The suspect then went on a killing spree from March of a year ago until July, police said. He was killed months before most of the other victims.

Lora Romero said Saucedo's arrest, while a relief, reopened the wounds of losing her father - a hard-working, generous man who loved to watch football, play softball and tell amusing stories to his kids.

Marina Smith, the partner of 21-year-old Diego Verdugo-Sanchez, who was gunned down on April 1, 2016, said she welcomed news of the arrest but was still struggling with his loss.

They found a gun that he had pawned in September 2015 and matched it to evidence from the murder of Romero, 61, who was gunned down outside his home but had not been included in the pattern identified by police.

Ms Smith said she had grown frustrated over the past year as detectives kept her in the dark about the investigation.

One of the victims, a 21-year-old man who survived being shot at point-blank range on July 11, 2016, while sitting in a vehicle with his 4-year-old nephew, told Phoenix NBC affiliate KPNX in April that police had recently visited him with several photos of suspects.

Authorities say a suspect has been arrested in series of shooting attacks in Phoenix a year ago that left at least seven people dead and two others wounded over a four-month period.

"The tips that came in were not so specific that it had to come from someone who knew the whole case - they were general and vague in nature, but they were enough to push us in the right direction", Howard says.