New court documents detail motivations behind shooting spree in Mesa, Phoenix

Court paperwork shows most of the victims in a deadly shooting spree in Phoenix and Mesa were homeless and the suspect was angry toward people who used drugs.
Published: May. 28, 2023 at 11:19 AM MST
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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — New court paperwork says a man’s hatred for drugs and homelessness was why he went on a deadly shooting spree in Phoenix and Mesa. The shootings started around 2:45 p.m. near 26th Street and Oak Street, which is north of McDowell Road, on Friday. New court documents provided to Arizona’s Family say 20-year-old Iren Byers was walking along the canal with 41-year-old Nicholas Arnstad, who was smoking fentanyl. Byers then shot him in the head because Arnstad was abusing fentanyl and he didn’t like that because his brother also abused fentanyl. Police found Arnstad dead a few minutes later.

Later in the day, police said he went to Mesa’s Beverly Park, near Alma School Road and Main Street, and met 41-year-old Julian Cox on the south side of the park. Court paperwork said he talked to Byers about using “blues,” which is a street name for fentanyl pills, so Byers shot him in the head and took off. Cox’s body was discovered just before 10:30 p.m.

Byers then met 41-year-old Stephen Young at a nearby Circle K and started talking to him while riding the light rail toward Country Club. Byers said he wanted to smoke weed but Young wanted to smoke fentanyl. While walking down Country Club toward Broadway Road, he shot Young in the head and ran off. His body was found outside a bus depot on Country Club just north of Broadway Road at midnight Saturday.

Byers started talking to 40-year-old John Swain, walking along the railroad tracks nearby. Swain said he was homeless and not from around here, so Byers later told investigators he shot him in the head, according to court paperwork. Swain fell down the hill and Byers continued to shoot him. At 12:02 a.m., patrols found Swain dead near just west of Extension near Broadway.

Byers met his final victim while walking on Main Street near a hotel, police said. Byers later admitted he talked with 36-year-old Angela Fonseca until she made him mad and shot her in the face, court paperwork said. She was found at 12:14 a.m. at Stewart and Main Street, which is about a half-mile away from the park. Fonseca was taken to the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries. She’s expected to survive.

New court documents say why a suspect shot five people, killing four of them, in Phoenix and Mesa on Friday and Saturday.

Officers say they found Byers near his grandmother’s apartment complex on Extension near Main Street and he was initially arrested on a trespassing charge. Detectives said he was cooperative, admitted to all five shootings, and told them they could find the clothes and 9mm gun he used inside a fanny pack inside his grandmother’s bedroom at the apartment complex. According to court documents, at least one casing from each scene matched the same handgun, which they found in the fanny pack. They also state Byers told detectives he didn’t call 911 or help the victims because they didn’t deserve it.

Investigators also located video surveillance footage from a nearby Circle K, light rail and a home nearby in Mesa. Byers was seen in all videos wearing the same clothes as the shooter described by witnesses. Byers was arrested and booked into jail on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. He is being held with no bond. “We are saddened for the families of these four victims. Knowing that Iren Byers will have to face the consequences of his unjustified actions is the start of justice to be seen,” Mesa Police Det. Brandi George said in a statement.

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