A man was killed and five other people were wounded in a mass shooting Wednesday in Mesa, Arizona, police told AZCentral.com. One victim is in critical condition.
According to Mesa police, a suspect, 41-year-old Ryan Giroux was taken into custody after a search that lasted several hours.
He was taken into custody in a vacant condominium unit in Mesa, police said at a press conference. During a door-to-door search in an area where officers had set-up a perimeter, Giroux was seen on the condo’s balcony, Detective Esteban Flores said. SWAT officers responded to the building and entered the condo, taking Giroux into custody. Flores said the suspect was “Tased” during the arrest, but wasn’t otherwise injured.
The arrest took place at about 1 p.m., nearly five hours after the first shooting.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Suspect is a Violent Felon With Ties to White Supremacists
Giroux was released from prison in 2013 after serving more than six years for attempted aggravated assault with a prior felony conviction. He had previously served prison time for second-degree burglary, a felony, along with theft and a marijuana violation.
He pleaded guilty to the attempted assault charge in 2006. Details of that case weren’t immediately available, but he was also charged with misconduct involving weapons in connection with the same incident.
Giroux faced several disciplinary actions while in prison, according to DOC records, including two violations for “aggravated refusal of assignment,” which means he refused a housing or work assignment for the purpose of obstructing racial integration.
He also was charged with a violation for his tattoos, along with promoting prison contraband, obstructing staff, disobeying a verbal or written order, possession/manufacturing of a weapon and drug possession.
Giroux violated his probation in 2014 and his time under supervision was extended until 2016, according to court records.
The Anti-Defamation League explained Giroux’s tattoos:
Giroux had the words “skin” and “head” tattooed on his eyebrows, while next to his left eye is a prominent “88” tattoo. The numerical symbol “88,” which stands for “Heil Hitler” (because H is the 8th letter of the alphabet), is one of the most popular white supremacist tattoos in the United States.
Giroux also has a Celtic knotwork tattoo on his chin. Such tattoos are popular with white supremacists, though also used by others.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch blog is reporting that Giroux is a member of the white supremacist, neo-Nazi groups, including the Hammerskin Nation.
A retired Mesa detective, Matt Browning, told the blog he knew Giroux from previous encounters as being part of the violent, racist skinhead group. Browning said Giroux was also associated with the prison gang the Aryan Brotherhood.
Browning told Hatewatch that Giroux is a “violent guy,” and thinks “his time in prison contributed to that.”
Wade Michael Page, who killed six people and wounded four others before being fatally shot by police at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin in 2012, was a member of the Hammerskins, according to NBC News.
The Hammerskins have a history of violence in the United States and around the world, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The group was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1998 and is often associated with neo-Nazi bands and hate rock concert festivals.
According to the group’s official website, AHS, or the “Arizona Hammerskins” were founded in 1990.
In 1991, Jimmy “Soda Pop” Miller, an Arizona Hammerskin, firebombed a home he thought was occupied by rival skinheads and defaced a synagogue, according to the Anti-Defamation League. He served two years in prison for those crimes.
The Anti-Defamation League says:
The Hammerskin Nation is the most violent and best-organized neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States. A number of its members have been convicted of harassing, beating or murdering minorities. Many popular racist rock bands are affiliated with the Hammerskin Nation, and the group regularly sponsors concerts. Though internal dissension and a civil lawsuit currently threaten its continued strength, the Hammerskin Nation remains active and dangerous.
2. There Are at Least 3 Shooting Scenes
The shootings were spread out across Mesa, starting at a motel on Main Street, police said. Three people were shot at the motel. Police have not said if the victims were randomly targeted or knew the shooter.
Police said the shootings were first reported at about 8:30 a.m. local time.
“We have an active shooter situation,” Detective Esteban Flores told reporters at the time. “Right now, we don’t know exactly how many victims we have. But we do have multiple victims at this time.”
3. The Shooter Carjacked a Vehicle
After the motel shooting on West Main Street, the gunman carjacked a gray Honda and drove off, police said in a press conference on Fox 10 News. He shot the car’s owner, a student at a nearby technical school.
There were multiple victims found along the way between the first two shooting scenes and the apartment where Giroux was arrested. They were shot during home invasions or robbery attempts, police said.
4. Local Schools Were on Lockdown
The East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa was locked down after the shooting, according to reports on Twitter. Mesa Community College was also locked down.
5. Mesa is About 20 Miles from Phoenix
Mesa is located in Maricopa County about 20 miles east of Phoenix. The city has about 450,000 residents.
In a statement, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said:
I’ve spoken to Mayor Giles and offered the full support and resources of the state in handling this senseless shooting. I’ve also directed the Arizona Department of Public Safety to assist Mesa with any and all resources required. Right now, our hearts and prayers are with the people of Mesa, the individuals affected by this tragedy, and all law enforcement and first responders working to assist the victim.
An officer-involved shooting in Glendale, Arizona, about 40 minutes away, is not related to the shooting, police said.