For most Scottsdale residents, what the Serial Shooter was doing these last several months happened to other people. All the little dots on those maps we saw in the newspapers and on TV that marked where the shooter’s victims were attacked were in other Valley cities, mostly Phoenix.
Two men were arrested early Friday in connection with attacks on 36 victims — animals were also attacked — that included six people who lost their lives. One was killed in Scottsdale.
I went Friday afternoon to 61st Place and Thomas Road to look at the spot beneath Scottsdale’s dot.
Roadside memorials to those killed in auto accidents have gone up in Scottsdale and stayed up for months, even years. Yet no crosses or flowers or candles for Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz could be seen, only two people waiting for a bus while a man refilled a box with free publications.
It was barely three months ago when Gutierrez-Cruz, 20, a custodian who worked in Scottsdale, was on her way to her east Phoenix apartment after work the evening of May 2. The Tribune reported police saying that she was walking westbound on Thomas Road near 61st Place just before 10:30 p.m. when she was shot to death.
It’s an area I know well. On Sundays I drive right past the spot on my way to church. Until a few years ago, my brother lived a few blocks north. Some longtime family friends still live a few blocks south.
Even given the time of night when police say she was killed, it’s not a desolate stretch of road. A Fry’s Food & Drug store at that corner would have still been open. Employees are present 24 hours a day at a nursing center on the south side of Thomas.
The Tribune has reported that police acknowledged reviewing videotape of that stretch of Thomas made that night by cameras mounted on the Fry’s store. Perhaps soon we’ll get to see that tape to find out what actually happened that night.
I watched Scottsdale Police Chief Alan Rodbell on TV. He briefly recalled Gutierrez-Cruz’s life and death when he spoke at Friday’s news conference. He said he hoped the arrests of Dale S. Hausner and Samuel John Dieteman will “bring some conclusion to that case and some conclusion for the families.”
Scottsdale is a place of few murders. In recent years the annual count was in the single digits, seven in 2003 and four in 2004, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report.
While the Serial Shooter only struck once here, once is enough for Scottsdale to think some more about safety on our streets. While we’re at that, maybe we will also take a moment to think some more about a young woman who tragically believed on that night that she’d make it home.