Police name Serial Street Shooter suspect, add 3 more shootings to case

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Aaron Juan Saucedo 21 April 2017 [Source: Maricopa County Sheriff Office] Aaron Juan Saucedo 21 April 2017 [Source: Maricopa County Sheriff 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) Composite sketch of the Serial Street Shooter, left, and the mugshot of Aaron Juan Saucedo. (Source: Phoenix Police Department/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Police said the Serial Street shooter is responsible for nine murders. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Police said the Serial Street shooter is responsible for nine murders. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The Serial Street Shooter has been linked nine murders and 12 shootings. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The Serial Street Shooter has been linked nine murders and 12 shootings. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Jesse Olivas was shot and killed near 59th Avenue and Thomas Road on Jan. 1, 2016. (Source: Phoenix Police Department) Jesse Olivas was shot and killed near 59th Avenue and Thomas Road on Jan. 1, 2016. (Source: Phoenix Police Department)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

First considered a “person of interest” in the ongoing Serial Street Shooter investigation, Aaron Juan Saucedo is now the prime suspect in the series of deadly shootings in the Phoenix area, Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said on Monday.

Williams said Saucedo is now linked to nine murders and 12 incidents between August of 2015 and July 2016, which is three more attacks and two more murders than originally thought. Police previously said at least seven people were killed and two others wounded over a four-month period last year. 

Saucedo was booked on 26 felony counts, including homicide, assault and drive-by shooting.

[RAW VIDEO: News conference announcing name of Serial Street Shooter suspect]

"Phoenix police officers and our law enforcement partners have put in tens of thousands of hours to get this right," Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said.

There were no specifics given but police said there is a multitude of evidence linking Saucedo to the string of crimes, including ballistic, witness statements, forensics, surveillance videos, physical evidence and more. 

Police said Saucedo may have made comments linking himself to the crimes. He reportedly told investigators when the composite sketches of the Serial Street Shooter were released, he changed his appearance and stopped driving his black BMW.

Saucedo was a bus driver for the City of Phoenix through a temp agency for several months in July through August 2015, Phoenix police said. Records show Saucedo was pulled over for allegedly running a red light on Oct. 27, 2015, just a month after the first killing.

"This case plagued our community for more than a year," Williams said, "And left behind a trail of victims that included mothers, sons, brothers, sisters and families still mourning the loss of their loved ones."

Saucedo, 23, pleaded not guilty on Friday to a murder from nearly two years ago. Police arrested him in late April in connection with the shooting death of Raul Romero, who was found near his vehicle outside an apartment complex in the area of Montebello Avenue and Eighth Place on Aug. 17, 2015. Williams said that crime is now part of the Serial Street Shooter case.

Shortly after Saucedo’s arrest, police confirmed he was a person of interest in the Serial Street Shooter case.

[RELATED: 'Person of interest' in serial killer case pleads not guilty to murder]

[READ MORE: Phoenix Police make arrest in 2015 murder (April 21, 2017)]

"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.

The three incidents there were added to the serial killer case happened before the original first shooting, which was on March 17, 2016.

The new first incident linked to the Serial Street Shooter case was on Aug. 12, 2015. Shots were fire at a home near Ninth Street and Colter Street. No one was hurt, Williams said.

The Phoenix police chief added the death of Romero on August 16, 2015, to the string of shootings.

[RAW VIDEO: Initial court appearance for serial killings suspect Aaron Juan Saucedo]

Ballistics tests linked Saucedo’s 9 mm Hi-Point handgun to that murder. Court documents show that Saucedo sold the gun to a pawn shop a little more than two weeks after Romero's death.

Williams said Saucedo was also responsible for the murder of Jesse Olivas, who was shot and killed in front of a home near 59th Avenue and Thomas Road.

 The shootings in the Serial Street Shooter case were mostly in the Maryvale section of west Phoenix but also included city's central corridor and east side. The victims, who have no obvious connection to each other, range in age from 12 to 55.

Police said Saucedo knew Romero through his mother but he didn't know the other victims.

[PHOTOS: The victims of Phoenix serial killer]

Police said that the $75,000 reward that was offered for information leading to an arrest in the case will be paid out, but they wouldn't reveal details about whether the money was going to one person or multiple people.

Detectives working the case had included Saucedo’s picture in a photo array they showed to surviving victims and witnesses. That photo resembles the widely circulated composite sketch of the suspect. In addition, neighbors living near Saucedo’s Phoenix home said 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.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Phoenix 'Serial Street Shooter' case]

Williams also announced that the evidence showed Saucedo is not linked to the freeway shootings case, but police also could not rule him out.

Saucedo’s gun, the one link forensically to Romero’s murder, was one of several confiscated from Valley pawn shops by investigators working the Phoenix freeway shootings case, which goes back to between August and September 2015.

The Department of Public Safety homed in on a weapon belonging to another man, Leslie Merritt Jr. He was subsequently arrested and charged. Those charges have since been dropped and Merritt released from jail.

DPS has previously rejected the notion that Saucedo was linked to the freeway shootings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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