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Phoenix police arrest 2 men in investigation of fatal shootings

Associated Press Writer

PHOENIX – Police said Friday that two men captured at a gated apartment complex are responsible for a string of apparently random late-night killings that have terrorized residents across this sprawling city for months.Authorities gave no details about how they linked Dale S. Hausner and Samuel John Dieteman to the three dozen shootings investigators had labeled as the work of the “Serial Shooter,” or whether they believed both men or just one pulled the trigger.But Phoenix police Chief Jack Harris said his detectives have compiled physical and forensic evidence, statements from the suspects and weapons seized from their home in suburban Mesa.”We have a great deal of evidence from a variety of sources in this case and that’s the reason that we are so confident that these are the people,” Harris said.The attacks, which began in May 2005, left six dead and were all the more frightening because another, apparently unrelated serial killer has been preying on Phoenix-area victims at the same time.”These are the two monsters we have been hunting, and I promise you and our colleagues promise you, we are not finished,” Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said during a news conference Friday.Hausner, 33, and Dieteman, 30, were arrested late Thursday in an apartment complex in nearby Mesa. Neighbors said the men shared an apartment.Hausner and Dieteman were booked Friday afternoon for investigation of two counts of first-degree murder in the killing Sunday of Robin Blasnek and the May 2 killing of Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz and for investigation of 13 counts of attempted first-degree murder. Police said other charges are possible.They had been scheduled to make an initial court appearance late Friday night.Harris said detectives had only the first name of one suspect until Monday, when they made the connection that identified Hausner and Dieteman.Late Thursday night, police SWAT teams encircled the apartment, but didn’t try to make a forced entry, knowing that Hausner’s 2-year-old daughter was inside, Harris said. They waited until Dieteman came out to dump the garbage to arrest him, then took Hausner into custody a short time later when he too came outside.”The child was not involved, was not harmed and was returned to the mother,” Harris said.Hausner’s brother, Randy, told The Associated Press his family is devastated by his arrest.”I mean, who would do something like that? That’s harming innocent people,” Randy Hausner said. “I’ve been getting sick all day about it.”Police said Friday morning that they knew nothing about the suspects’ occupations, but the city said Hausner worked as a janitor at the Phoenix airport and neighbors said he also worked as a freelance photographer.An Internet search Friday turned up several photographs taken by Hausner of women boxers. A Web site offering his services as a wedding and party photographer displays his boxing photography work, as well as picture of him shaking hands with Mike Tyson.Jill O’Donnell, 20, who lives in the complex near Hausner’s apartment, said she spent considerable time chatting with Hausner, but added that during the last month, he wouldn’t say hello or wave when she passed by.He “seemed like a really nice person, but he gave off a vibe of someone you didn’t want to be too social with,” O’Donnell said.Dieteman said nothing the one time they met while inside the men’s apartment, she said.Knowing the suspects “brings a whole new level of terror,” O’Donnell said.Investigators searching the apartment complex Friday morning used flashlights to peer through the windows of a car, which was later hauled away by a tow truck, and television footage showed police carrying what appeared to be several rifles or shotguns away from the apartment.The Serial Shooter targeted pedestrians and bicyclists on empty streets throughout the Phoenix area. Twenty-three people were shot, six fatally, and even horses and dogs were among the victims.Joseph Roberts, 18, recalled walking his bike in central Phoenix on July 3 when an approaching car slowed down and the driver shot him. He said he saw only one man in the car.”He pulled out a gun and just shot me,” said Roberts, who was hit in the stomach. “I was thinking, ‘Oh man, I’m going to die.’ The bleeding wouldn’t stop.”Doctors had to remove part of Roberts’ stomach and he said he has not been allowed to work so he can recover.”If the cops didn’t catch him, when I got better, I was going to find him and strangle him,” Roberts said. “I feel like killing that guy.”Assistant Police Chief Kevin Robinson said the crimes appear unrelated to the still-unsolved “Baseline Killer” cases: eight slayings and 11 rapes since August 2005. Investigators are scouring the city’s trove of unsolved crimes for links to that serial predator.The two serial-killer cases doubled the fear and paranoia gripping Phoenix neighborhoods in recent months, and prompted law enforcement agencies to devote more than 200 investigators to track down the killers. Authorities said they will move investigators from the Serial Shooter to the Baseline Killer case.Robinson described Hausner and Dieteman as friends who had no obvious connections to any of the victims.”The best we could tell, they were just random victims. These individuals just picked victims out and that was it,” Robinson said.Police would not discuss what they thought were the men’s motives.The most recent shooting in the case occurred Sunday in Mesa, less than three miles from Hausner and Dieteman’s apartment. Blasnek, 22, was killed as she was walking from her parents’ home to her boyfriend’s house.Tom Mangan, a spokesman with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, said that Hausner and Dieteman also are believed to have committed arson.Mangan said ATF investigators had spotted two people who looked like Hausner and Dieteman in surveillance video from two Glendale Wal-Marts that had been set on fire in June.—Associated Press Writer Terry Tang contributed to this report.—On the Net:Phoenix Police Department: http://www.phoenix.gov/police


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