Before they were suspects, police knew the men charged with the Serial Shootings as “witnesses” to at least one random attack in the West Valley, police reports said.
A resident heard a gunshot near Camelback Road and Loop 101 on May 30 and called Phoenix police about 11 p.m. When police arrived, they found Samuel Dieteman and Dale Hausner nearby.
The men flagged down police from behind a condominium security gate and pointed them toward the victim, police reports said. James Hodge, 56, of Phoenix had been shot in the back with a shotgun, but not killed.
Dieteman and Hausner, who were later arrested in connection with a string of random shootings across the Valley, told police they were brothers.
Dieteman and Hausner, who are not related, were questioned separately.
Neither said he had heard a shot, but each said he had heard a scream. They said they approached Hodge to ask what happened, but he wasn’t able to respond, police reports said.
Other witnesses to the same incident recalled hearing a single gunshot, but no witness reported seeing the actual shooting.
Police reports indicate that Hausner provided investigators that night with an incorrect home address in Mesa, and Dieteman’s last name was misspelled in reports, which confused initial investigations into his background.
Police were not able to identify Dieteman as a suspect in the Serial Shootings until June 20, and Hausner did not become a suspect until July 31 Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill said.
Court records now allege that Hausner shot Hodge from a Toyota Camry, which Dieteman drove.
But on the night of the shooting, officers had no reason to detain the men and listed them only as witnesses.
Hausner and Dieteman have since been charged in a 46-count indictment, which includes the fatal shootings of Mesa resident Robin Blasnek on July 30 and Scottsdale resident Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz on May 2. They were also charged this week with arsons at two Wal-Mart stores in the West Valley. Surveillance cameras inside the show the men entering and leaving together.
The men were arrested Aug. 4 at a Mesa apartment complex.
Hill said officers did a good job of securing the scene on May 30. He was not surprised to learn police had run across Dieteman and Hausner without recognizing them as potential suspects.
“These are very random shootings,” Hill said. “And we’ve been dealing with hundreds of leads and thousands of phone calls. Investigators have been following dozens of investigative leads.”