A felon with ties to white supremacist groups has been arrested in the mass shooting in Mesa, Arizona that left at least one man dead and five other people wounded in a crime spree that stretched across the city.
Ryan Giroux was identified by Mesa police as the gunman, according to NBC 12 News, a Phoenix news station.
He was arrested at about 1 p.m., nearly five hours after the first shooting.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Served 6 Years in Prison for Attempted Aggravated Assault
Giroux, 41, 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. According to ABC 15 News, Giroux was arrested in that case after he was caught trying to steal chips from a store and went for an officer’s gun while he was being taken into custody.
Giroux violated his probation in 2014 and his time under supervision was extended until 2016, according to court records.
He previously served time in prison from 1994 to 1997, according to court records.
Giroux was also charged with assault with a deadly weapon twice (in 2000 and 2006) in Los Angeles County, California, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was convicted of those charges, but it’s unclear what his sentence was or the details of those cases, according to the Times.
2. His Tattoos Are Known Neo-Nazi Symbols
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.”
3. He Belonged to the Same White Supremacist Group as the Wisconsin Sikh Temple Shooter
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.
4. He Refused a Prison Assignment Over Racial Issues
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.
5. The First Shooting Sparked a Violent Crime Spree
There are about three to four crimes scenes across Mesa, police said. The shootings started at a motel on Main Street in downtown Mesa following an argument, according to Fox 10 Phoenix. Three people were shot at the motel. Police have not said if the victims there were randomly targeted or knew the shooter.
Police said the shootings were first reported at about 8:30 a.m. local time.
After the shooting on West Main Street, the gunman carjacked a gray Honda and drove off, police said in a press conference on Fox 10 News. A student from a nearby technical school was shot and had his car stolen, police said.
At least one other person was shot during a home invasion in the neighborhood where the suspect was arrested.
Giroux 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, he was seen on the condo’s balcony, Detective Esteban Flores said. SWAT officers responded to the building and entered the condo, arresting Giroux. Flores said the suspect was “Tased” during the arrest, but wasn’t otherwise injured.
He was shown on NBC 12 News video being led from the house wearing a white disposable jumpsuit, with black gloves covering his cuffed hands.
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.