'Person of interest' identified in Phoenix Serial Street Shooter case; DPS denies link to freeway shooter case

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Composite sketch of the Serial Street Shooter, left, and the mugshot of Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Phoenix Police Department/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Composite sketch of the Serial Street Shooter, left, and the mugshot of Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Phoenix Police Department/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff Office) Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff Office)
Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
A picture of Saucedo's BMW car, which is similar to the one described by police as belonging to the Serial Street Shooter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A picture of Saucedo's BMW car, which is similar to the one described by police as belonging to the Serial Street Shooter. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A suspect sketch and vehicle picture of the Serial Street Shooter. (Source: Phoenix Police Department) A suspect sketch and vehicle picture of the Serial Street Shooter. (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Law enforcement sources have confirmed the identity of the "person of interest" in connection with the notorious "Serial Street Shooter" case.

His name is Aaron Juan Saucedo. The 23-year-old was arrested Wednesday night on an unrelated murder charge stemming from a 2015 shooting in Phoenix. Police said ballistic testing linked Saucedo's 9 mm Hi-Point handgun to the murder of 61-year-old Raul Romero.

[READ MORE: Phoenix Police make arrest in 2015 murder]

Detectives have visiting surviving victims of the Serial Street Shooter and witnesses and showing them photo line-ups with mug shots, including Saucedo's.

According to neighbors living near the 23-year-old's Phoenix home, Saucedo drove a black BMW 5-series sedan that closely matches the description of the vehicle linked to the crimes. Detectives have seized that vehicle as evidence.

What we're waiting for now is whether Saucedo goes from "person of interest" to an official suspect in the case.

Phoenix Police Chief Jeri L. Williams released a statement Tuesday via Facebook regarding the complexity of the investigation.

Police believe the Serial Street Shooter is responsible for nine attacks from March to July of 2016. Seven people were killed and two were hurt in shootings that started in the Maryvale section of west Phoenix and spread to the city's central core and east side.

[Special section: Phoenix 'Serial Street Shooter' case]

According to court documents, the 2015 murder of Romero involved the same type of handgun used in the Phoenix freeway shootings. Romero was shot and killed near Seventh Street and Bethany Home Road on Aug. 16, 2015 -- 11 days before the first freeway shooting incident.

Investigators with the Department of Public Safety arrested Leslie Merritt Jr. after they said bullet fragments found at the scene of four of the freeway shootings matched a gun Merritt he had recently pawned. He was arrested in September of 2015 but all charges were dropped in April of 2016.

Merritt's firearm was one of eight Hi-Point 9 millimeter handguns DPS confiscated from Valley pawn shops as part of the freeway shooting investigation. It turns out a Hi-Point 9 mm gun having belonged to Saucedo was also one of the eight.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix Freeway Shootings]

Phoenix attorney Jason Lamm represented Merritt in the criminal case. He has filed a wrongful arrest lawsuit against the state on his client’s behalf.

"The problem is DPS never compared Saucedo's gun to the evidence in the freeway shooters case," said Lamm.

DPS test fired all eight guns. But, when they got what they said was a match with Merritt's gun, they admit they stopped the comparison testing. 

"That was the big debate in the criminal case where the DPS crime lab said it was a match. But two national experts and the ATF, well, they refuted that finding," said Lamm.

The two nationally known experts Lamm is referring to were hired by the prosecution. When the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office received their findings the case against Merritt was dismissed.

When reached for comment, a spokesperson for DPS rejected the possibility of a connection between Saucedo and the freeway shooting investigation.

"At this time there is no evidence linking the two cases," Trooper Kameron Lee with DPS said in a statement.

DPS still considers Merritt a suspect. 

“They can call him whatever they want. They can call him the Queen of England. The fact of the matter is Leslie is not responsible for the 1-10 freeway shootings,” said Lamm.  

It's not clear if the Phoenix Police Department will do any ballistics comparisons between Saucedo's gun and the evidence in the freeway shootings.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


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