A suspect is now in custody, Sgt. Brandon Sheffert, a spokesman with the Peoria Police Department, said at a news conference. Of the four people struck by gunfire in the attacks, one died and three others are “expected to recover,” he said, while nine more suffered various injuries.
Police have thus far only identified the suspect as a man, and haven’t released any details about a possible motive in the shootings.
“We don’t know the nexus. We don’t know what the motive was. We don’t have an idea of what this person was thinking when he went out and did this,” Sheffert told reporters. “Obviously we want to figure that out because there’s a lot of scared people and a lot of people who this affected.”
Thursday’s shooting rampage came as the United States continues to see significant gun violence breaking out across the country this year, already on course to surpass 2020 levels. Last year was the deadliest for gun violence in at least two decades.
Thursday’s violence in Arizona started around 11:10 a.m., when police in Peoria — a city of roughly 175,000 residents about 13 miles northwest of Phoenix — responded to reports of a drive-by shooting. There, officers found a person who had been shot in a car. Witnesses said the gunman had been driving a white Volkswagen Tiguan, an SUV.
The gunman then continued shooting at seven other locations throughout Glendale, Peoria and Surprise, firing at people in their cars and on foot, Sheffert said.
The person who died was found in their vehicle, which had fallen into a ditch on Loop 101, the area’s main freeway, and Thunderbird Road.
“The assumption is they were shot on the freeway and ran off road,” Sheffert told The Washington Post.
Around 90 minutes after the initial reports of the shooting, a firefighter in Surprise spotted the suspect’s vehicle and police quickly arrived and encircled the SUV.
A video that local news reporters identified as the scene of the arrest shows a man in a hat holding up his hands as he is surrounded by police in a parking lot. The man, with his hands raised, backed up until police could handcuff him. A weapon was recovered in the SUV, Surprise Police Sgt. Tommy Hale said at the news conference.
Police had not yet booked the suspect in jail as of late Thursday, Sgt. Greg Welch, a Surprise Police Department spokesman, told The Post.
Witnesses to the shootings told local reporters they were upset by the scene, a rarity in their quiet suburb.
“When I’m talking about it now, I kind of want to feel like crying,” Kim Lampe, who works at a salon close to where the suspect was arrested, told KTVK. “Because it’s emotional — it’s scary — to think that something like that could happen ... when you’re at work.”
Sheffert said the incident shook the area.
“This kind of stuff doesn’t happen here, and it’s very trying on our community members and department employees,” he said. “For someone to go and cause this amount of damage and pain to so many families involved is pretty terrible.”