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The Arizona Republic reporter Megan Cassidy sums up the press conference held at Phoenix police headquarters announcing the arrest of the suspect in the “Serial Street Shooter” case on May 8, 2017. Tom Tingle/azcentral.com

PHOENIX — A 23-year-old Arizona man has been arrested in connection with street shootings that terrorized the Phoenix area over four months in 2016, police said Monday.

Aaron Saucedo, initially arrested April 19 for a fatal shooting in 2015, was re-booked Monday into a Maricopa County jail and now is facing 26 charges related to the serial street shootings that occurred from March to July 2016.

In making the announcement Monday afternoon, Police Chief Jeri Williams said at least two additional murders have been linked to the serial shooter, bringing the death toll to nine.

The announcement comes after weeks of speculation and unconfirmed reports on the investigation.

Saucedo was arrested last month and held on a $750,000 bond on suspicion of murdering 61-year-old Raul Romero in August 2015. Romero had been dating Saucedo’s mother at the time of his death.

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Police on Monday linked Romero’s death to the serial street shootings, as well as the shooting death of Jesse Olivas, 22, killed in a drive-by shooting Jan. 1, 2016.

But police now say Saucedo is responsible, at least in part, for more carnage than any other serial killer in the Valley of the Sun in more than a decade.

Unlike Romero, the rest of the victims seemed to be picked at random. They were visiting family, returning home from work, or lounging in their yards when a phantom assailant gunned them down.

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Witnesses and surviving victims described a slender, young Hispanic man but couldn’t agree on a vehicle. Police said it was possible that the killer had access to multiple cars but circulated a stock photo of one vehicle a witness described in detail: a black BMW 5 series, late 1990s to early 2000s.

At the time of his arrest, Saucedo was living in the 4600 block of north 10th Street in Phoenix, according to court records. Two investigators were outside the home when Arizona Republic reporters showed up last month but would not confirm the reason for their presence.

Joe Guzman, a neighbor across the street, spoke briefly to Republic reporters that same day. He said he didn’t know Saucedo but was acquainted with his mother, Maria.

He remembered Aaron Saucedo speeding up and down the street and noted that, a few days earlier, police had seized Saucedo’s car.

It was a black BMW, he said.

Police said Saucedo sold a Hi-Point 9mm handgun to a pawn shop Sept. 1, 2015, 16 days after Romero was murdered. A new owner purchased the gun June 28, 2016.

If the gun were in the pawn shop for almost eight months, it would have been unavailable for all but one of the incidents tied to the serial shooter.

Arizona has few records on Saucedo, criminal or otherwise.

Neighbors said he had been living at the North 10th Street residence since he was a boy, and yearbook photos show he attended North High School in Phoenix his freshman and sophomore years. The yearbooks give no indications Saucedo participated in any high school clubs or activities.

A Phoenix Union district representative confirmed that Saucedo transferred to Central High School by his junior year but the district has no records for him after that. This could mean he dropped out or transferred to another district.

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Saucedo’s lone footprint on the state’s criminal justice system before the Romero charge — a red-light ticket in September 2015 — provides one piece of his work history.

At the time, Saucedo was a public bus driver. A red-light photo of the incident shows a relaxed, 20-year-old Saucedo wearing neon green sunglasses and gripping the bus’ steering wheel.

The city of Phoenix does not directly employ bus drivers, but rather contracts with two private companies, First Transit and Transdev.

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In court records from Saucedo’s initial arrest April 19, Saucedo reported that he was employed full time working in “labor” at a company called Re-Bath. A Re-Bath representative said Saucedo worked at one of the temp agencies the kitchen and bathroom remodeler uses.

One of two victims who survived the serial shooter shot him said investigators visited him last month to show him a photo lineup.

The victim, who was 21 at the time, said he didn’t really recognize anyone in the lineup but stressed that the shooting was more than a year ago. He said he “pointed out some things” that might help police.

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“I really don’t care anymore, to be honest with you,” he said.

The Arizona Republic is withholding this man’s identity because he is a crime victim.

Another victim whose car was shot at said police also visited him to show him a lineup. He also seemed uncertain about the suspect’s identity.

The victim said he pointed out more than one person in the photo lineup. But when The Republic showed him a picture of Saucedo, he said he didn’t think he was one of the men he picked.

Sylvia Ellis, the mother and grandmother of two of the victims, said just after Saucedo’s arrest last month that police had not contacted her family.

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The murderer struck nine times between March 17 and July 11, 2016, killing seven people and wounding two more.

Six of the attacks were in the west Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale.

The other three attacks took place in east-central Phoenix. The third attack occurred south of Banner University Medical Center-Phoenix, in a neighborhood just south of Interstate 10.

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All of the shootings were in residential neighborhoods with predominantly Hispanic populations. In fact, most residents of those neighborhoods speak Spanish as their first language.

Though police specifically underscored the BMW sedan, witnesses have described several cars, including a long white Cadillac or Lincoln; a dark Nissan Maxima or Chevrolet Malibu; a light-colored four-door car; and a dark car with “triangle-shaped” headlights.

Follow Megan Cassidy on Twitter: @meganrcassidy


The crimes

Phoenix police have tied 11 deaths to a 23-year-old Phoenix man. Most of the killings were dubbed the “Serial Street Shootings” while they were occurring last year. All occurred in Phoenix, most in the Maryvale neighborhood.

• August 2015. Raul Romero, 61, is killed.

• Jan. 1, 2016. Jesse Olivas, 22, dies in a drive-by shooting.

• 11:30 p.m. MT March 17, 2016. A 16-year-old boy is shot while standing outside his vehicle. He survived.

• 11:30 p.m. March 18, 2016. A 21-year-old man is shot while standing outside his vehicle. He survived.

• 9 p.m. April 1, 2016. Diego Verdugo-Sanchez, 21, is shot and killed outside a home. 

• 4:30 a.m. April 19, 2016. The body of Krystal Annette White, 55, is discovered. She died of apparent gunshot wounds.

• 9:50 p.m. June 3. Horacio De Jesus Pena, 32, is fatally shot while outside a home.

• 9:30 p.m. June 10. Manuel Castro Garcia, 19, was fatally shot outside a home.

• 2:35 a.m. June 12. An unoccupied vehicle is discovered with bullet holes.

• 3 a.m. June 12. A gunman opens fire on two women and one girl seated in a parked car outside a home. Angela Linner, 31, and Maleah Ellis, 12, die almost immediately. Maleah’s mother, Stefanie Ellis, dies three weeks later.

• Evening of July 11. A gunman shoots at a vehicle with a 24-year-old man and a 4-year-old boy inside in a residential neighborhood. Neither is injured.