A 23-year-old Phoenix man has been arrested in connection with a wave of shootings that terrorized the Arizona city in 2016 and left at least nine people dead, authorities said Monday.
Aaron Juan Saucedo, who was already in police custody on a murder charge, was rebooked Monday into the Maricopa County Jail on 26 additional felonies, including multiple counts of homicide, aggravated assault and drive-by shooting, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said during a press conference.
“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.
Before mentioning Saucedo’s name, Williams described each of the attacks and read the names of the nine people he is accused of killing.
“Our hearts go out to the surviving families,” she said. “Today we are closer to providing them the justice they deserve.”
Saucedo was arrested last month in an investigation of the 2015 murder of 61-year-old Raul Romero, according to 3TV/CBS 5. He pleaded not guilty Friday to that first-degree murder charge.
Investigators initially believed that a shooter or shooters were responsible for seven killings in the Phoenix area. But authorities said Monday they have linked Saucedo, who had recently been identified as a “person of interest” in the serial shootings, to 12 incidents and nine deaths, the first being the murder of Romero in August 2015.
The case against Saucedo remains open, officials said. No motive has been identified, police said.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called Monday “a good day in the city of Phoenix.”
“It is our residents and our law enforcement working together that has help put a community at ease and help provide closure to the victims of these terrible crimes,” Stanton said.
In addition to Romero, Saucedo is suspected of killing Jesse Olivas, 22; Diego Verdugo Sanchez, 21; Krystal Annette White, 55; Horacio De Jesus Peña, 32; Manuel Castro Garcia, 19; Maleah Ellis, 12; Stefanie Ellis, 33; and Angela Linner, 31. Saucedo is also suspected of wounding a 16-year-old boy and a 21-year-old man, authorities said.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said the case has been handed over to his office for prosecution. His office will review the evidence and file charges that “will meet a reasonable likelihood of conviction,” he said.
“That’s the goal there — to make sure that we have a case that we can prosecute successfully that will hold responsible individuals accountable for the harm they cause to our community,” Montgomery said. “And make no mistake, for the pain that both surviving victims and surviving family members of victims have suffered, this may bring them justice but will not bring them perfect justice.”
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