One of the deadliest crime waves in Valley history ended late Thursday with an arrest under a most mundane circumstance: The suspect was taking out the trash. Not long after, his roommate came outside their Mesa apartment to look for him, and police grabbed him too.
Police say they are sure Dale S. Hausner, an airport janitor and professional photographer with a violent past; and Samuel John Dieteman, a convict and deadbeat dad, are the ones who carried out the Serial Shooter attacks.
But authorities were uncertain late Friday why the two took to the streets with weapons, or why they targeted certain victims.
“We have found no obvious evidence that they are related to any group or have any specific type of motive in mind,” said Phoenix assistant police chief Bill Louis. “That’s what anybody would think — what would drive somebody to do this? Are they a hate group or do they belong to some thing that would drive them to do it? "Nothing obvious right now,” Louis said.
The arrests ended what police believe is a 14-month shooting spree, characterized by late-night gunfire. The bloody tally: Six dead and 18 wounded in 36 random shootings, involving humans and animals, in Phoenix, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tolleson, Avondale and Glendale since May 2005.
Hausner and Dieteman were each were booked Friday afternoon on two counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted first-degree murder.
The roommates submitted to interviews with police and made incriminating statements, Louis said, nothing that explained why they shot people at random. Police said the pair had been under surveillance since Monday - the day after the final victim was found mortally wounded on a Mesa sidewalk. Robin Blasnek, 22, will be buried today.
Authorities refused to divulge details on how or why Hausner and Dieteman attracted their attention. But a major break came when investigators uncovered a connection between the slayings and two arson fires set June 8 at Wal-Marts in Glendale.
Together, the fires caused $23 million in damage and lost business for Wal-Mart, said Thomas G. Mangan, a senior special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
It took investigators more than a week to clean up surveillance footage from inside one of the stores and the parking lot, but once it was released to the public on June 19 a "barrage of phone calls" came in with tips, Glendale Fire Chief Mark Burdick said.
One of those tips identified one of the arson suspects, Mangan said. He would not disclose which one was identified.
"When you identify someone, obviously, you investigate every aspect of his life," Mangan said. Some of the details the ATF uncovered, including what car the suspects drive, matched information from the serial shooter case.
At the Windscape Apartments, a gated complex at 550 E. McKellips Rd., investigators confiscated a silver Toyota Camry matching a description of the car that police had believed to be linked to the Serial Shooter. They also took into evidence multiple long-barrelled firearms.
The arrests carried the element of surprise. The tactical units of the Mesa and Phoenix police had the apartment staked out and when one man went out to empty the garbage around 11:45 p.m., "we had a surprise for him," Louis said. The other suspect came out later and was also taken into custody.
The arrests brought a sense of relief to Phoenix retiree David Olivarez, 70, who lives in the area targeted by the shooters.
"I'm a runner. I run early in the morning and lately I've been afraid of it, afraid of running. I still continued my runs, regardless, always looking over my shoulder," he said.
People he encounter during his early morning runs were equally uneasy.
"Everybody was uneasy. You could see it in the people's faces," Olivarez said. "I can't blame them. You never could tell who it was."
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