Some residents were apathetic at first but many got involved as the shootings continued, she said.
In the end, nine people were killed in 12 separate shootings. All of the killings were random except for the first one, Williams said.
In the most recent attack on July 11, 2016, a 21-year-old man and his 4-year-old nephew escaped injury after the gunman shot at a vehicle they were sitting in.
His case was ultimately thrown out however, but investigators still believe he’s the culprit.
Smith said she had grown frustrated over the past year as detectives kept her in the dark about the investigation.
The next shooting didn’t happen until April 1, 2016, when Verdugo-Sanchez was fatally shot.
The department said it did not conduct ballistics tests on the gun and returned it to the pawn shop a few days later because investigators identified who they believed was the suspect in the freeway shootings case.
The shooter stalked victims after dark, police have said, selecting people who were either outside of their homes or sitting in cars before opening fire with a handgun.
But police on Monday said they had tied Saucedo to nine killings in all — eight random victims and one man that he knew. The investigation into the serial killings had focused what authorities said were seven fatal shootings.
Pastrana said she spearheaded a neighbourhood effort to encourage residents to talk to police.
Most of the killings by a gunman dubbed the Serial Street Shooter took place in a predominantly Latino neighbourhood between August 2015 and July 2016.
Smith was seven months pregnant with the couple’s child when Verdugo-Sanchez was fatally shot in front of a home.
and left behind a trail of victims that included mothers, sons, brothers, sisters and families still mourning the loss of their loved ones,” William said. “This case plagued our community for more than a year …
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A man was arrested Monday in a string of serial killings that terrified a Phoenix neighbourhood last year, a huge break in a case that involved nine deaths and a dozen separate shootings.
Aaron Juan Saucedo, 23, faces 26 felony counts of homicide, aggravated assault and drive-by-shooting, said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams.
Rosa Pastrana, the head of a block watch group in the Maryvale neighbourhood hardest hit by the killings, was relieved after hearing news of the arrest.
“The fact of them finding somebody, at least it was some type of news,” Smith said.
Police did not provide a motivation or details about why they believe Saucedo opened fire. The Associated Press was unable to reach Saucedo’s public defender on Monday.
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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 last year through July, police said.
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The Phoenix police chief and mayor appeared alongside other top officials including the county’s top prosecutor to announce the break in a case that had appeared largely stalled in recent months as leads and tips dried up.
The weapon was the same type used in the freeway shootings — a High-Point 9mm pistol — but authorities say Saucedo had nothing to do with that case.
This undated photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office shows Aaron Saucedo, who is accused of fatally shooting nine people in attacks that terrorized a largely Latino Phoenix neighbourhood, authorities said. (Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
“We hope that our community will rest a little easier and that our officers will get a little more sleep knowing that the wheels of justice are finally in motion,” Williams said.
Police also have linked Saucedo to the April 19, 2016 death of 60-year-old Krystal White; the June 3, 2016, death of Horacio de Jesus Pena; and to the killings of two women, Angela Linner and Stefanie Ellis, and 12-year-old girl Maleah Ellis on June 12, 2016. He killed Manny Castro Garcia on June 10, 2016.
But in a strange quirk, the Department of Public Safety said Saucedo’s gun from the killing of his mother’s friend had been test-fired as part of the freeway shooting probe.
Authorities investigated him more closely and connected him to the serial killings. Saucedo was arrested last month in connection with the August 2015 fatal shooting of a man who had a relationship with his mother, 61-year-old Raul Romero.
Police say that after Romero’s killing, Saucedo struck again about four months later in killing 22-year-old Jesse Olivas, who was gunned down on New Year’s Day 2016 while standing in front of a home.
Police say Saucedo shot at two teenage boys on March 17, 2016, striking one of them in the arm. The suspect struck again the next day but didn’t kill anyone.
“I’m happy my kids are going to be able to walk outside and I won’t have to fear that they’re going to get shot,” Pastrana said.
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.
She credited tips and tireless work by Phoenix police detectives and partner federal agencies for Saucedo’s arrest.