Friends, co-workers remember victim of suspected serial killer

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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

"It was truly a shock to us and we are saddened very deeply."

Loved ones, friends and co-workers are remembering those who fell victim to a suspected serial killer.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Suspected serial killer Cleophus Cooksey]

Cleophus Cooksey, Jr. is behind bars, accused of killing nine people in three weeks in Phoenix, Avondale and Glendale.

[READ MORE: Phoenix police attribute 9 murders to suspected serial killer arrested in parents' deaths]

Cooksey was first arrested last month after police say he killed his mother and stepfather in Phoenix.

Later, detectives found a connection to seven other murders across the Valley.

[TIMELINE: Police piece together crime spree of suspected serial killer]

A man named Salim Richards was one of those killed.

"Salim was the consummate professional," said David Smith with Superior Protection Services. "Salim was very attentive to his duties."

Smith talked to us about Richards, a well-liked and hardworking licensed security officer at the private security company.   

Richards was off duty the night of Dec. 2 when he was shot and killed at an apartment complex near Camelback and 44th Avenue. Police believe he was the third victim of Cooksey.

[RELATED: Man found shot to death in west Phoenix]

"The Salim Richards that we knew? He was everything you want in a security officer. He was somebody who was dedicated, very reliable and somebody you could always count on."

Police say the killer stole Richards' gun and a gold-colored necklace, a necklace that Cooksey was reportedly wearing the night in mid-December when he was arrested for allegedly gunning down his mother, Rene Cooksey, and his stepfather, Edward Nunn.

The news of the nine deaths has sent shock waves through families, friends and co-workers.

"This monster who did this needs to face the full measure of justice, not just for Salim and his family, but there are eight other lives lost."

Richards' friends tell us that he would have turned 36 years old this past Monday.

Cooksey is being held on a $5 million, cash only bond.

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