Scottsdale homicide tied to serial shootings - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Scottsdale homicide tied to serial shootings

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2006 10:53 pm | Updated: 3:46 pm, Wed Jun 19, 2013.

Police have added a Scottsdale homicide to the list of serial shootings that have Valley residents on edge. Scottsdale and Phoenix police hope to receive more information that could lead to a suspect in the May 2 killing of Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, 20, of Phoenix.

The slaying, which happened in the 6100 block of East Thomas Road about 10:30 p.m., is one of 34 recent shootings police are trying to solve.

The shootings of men, women and animals began in May 2005 and have resulted in five deaths.

Police said they were committed by someone driving a light-colored van and a small vehicle such as a Honda.

Twelve shootings have occurred since May 30, Phoenix police said.

On the night Gutierrez-Cruz was killed, another person was shot at 427 N. 44th St. in Phoenix.

Police believe that crime also is connected to the serial shooter.

With more than 100 Phoenix police officers investigating the shootings on a full-time basis, the crime spree has generated one of the most extensive investigations in local history, authorities have said.

Detectives wouldn't say what connects the Gutierrez-Cruz homicide to the others.

"We believe the circumstances of the killing of Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz are similar to the series of shootings in Phoenix. However, we have no definite connection between the cases," Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said.

"We, unfortunately, have had very few leads over the past two months on Claudia's murder and welcome the chance to bring this tragic incident back into the public spotlight."

The Gutierrez-Cruz case is the only shooting in the series in which the type of gun has been identified.

She died from a single shotgun blast to her torso, said Scottsdale police Lt. Scott Popp.

Gutierrez-Cruz had been walking west on East Thomas Road when she was shot.

She was discovered on the street between the Scottsdale Executive Villas office park and a Fry's grocery store.

A motorist who stopped to help the woman told police he saw a black Chevrolet Avalanche sport utility vehicle swerve in front of him and then turn north onto North 61st Place.

Gutierrez-Cruz died a few hours later at Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn hospital.

Police haven't said whether Fry's video surveillance camera, which pointed to the part of the street where Gutierrez-Cruz was shot, has revealed any helpful information.

Anyone with information or who may have seen anything unusual near the 6100 block of East Thomas road between 10 and 10:30 p.m. on May 2 are urged to call Scottsdale police at (480) 312-5000 or Silent Witness at (602) 261-8600.

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