crimesider

Suspect in Mesa rampage being called white supremacist

MESA, Ariz. -- A gunman killed one person and wounded five others Wednesday in a rampage that included a motel shooting, a carjacking and a home invasion and ended with his arrest at a nearby apartment in suburban Phoenix, police said.

The suspect surrendered after SWAT officers going door-to-door spotted him on the balcony of a vacant second-floor condominium and shocked him with a stun gun, reports CBS Phoenix affiliate KPHO-TV. He had eluded police for four hours.

Aerial video showed him being escorted to a waiting vehicle in a white hazardous-materials suit, with his handcuffed hands in black gloves to preserve evidence on his clothing and body, the station says.

Police later identified the man as Ryan Giroux, a 41-year-old ex-convict who has served three stints in state prison since 1994. A mug shot from the Arizona Department of Corrections shows him with several face and neck tattoos, including the word "skinhead" where his eyebrows normally would be.

Ryan Giroux mug shot

Ryan Giroux mug shot from Dec. 16, 2011

Arizona Department of Corrections

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, says Giroux's tattoos "identify him as a neo-Nazi white supremacist. What's more, a local retired detective says he is a longtime white supremacist skinhead associated with major racist groups."

The SPLC adds, "Retired Mesa Police Detective Matt Browning told Hatewatch that he knew Giroux from previous encounters, and that he was a member of Hammerskin Nation, a notoriously violent racist skinhead group, and an associate of the Aryan Brotherhood, a national prison gang with a long list of murders to its credit. 'He's a violent guy,' said Browning, who knew Giroux as a young skinhead in the 1990s and early 2000s. 'I think his time in prison contributed to that."'

Giroux served prison terms totaling more than eight years for burglary, theft, attempted aggravated assault and a marijuana violation, the Corrections Department said.

He was first incarcerated in 1994 and returned to prison in late 1995 before being released about a year later. He then returned to prison in mid-2007 before being released in late 2013.

Last year, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge allowed Giroux to remain on probation despite an unspecified probation violation.

Wednesday's shootings started with an argument inside a motel room that spilled outside, leaving one man dead and two women wounded, Mesa police Detective Esteban Flores said.

He declined to speculate on a motive for the spree, but said events following the fatal argument were prompted by robbery and attempts to get away.

After the argument at the motel, the gunman shot a man working at a nearby restaurant.

The adult student at the nearby East Valley Institute of Technology was able to run across the street to emergency responders already at the motel, Flores said. But before he did, he took a selfie of his wounds, reports CBS News correspondent Kris van Cleave.

The school said in a statement that the victim was one of seven students and an instructor working at Bistro 13 restaurant. The student was treated at a hospital and released.

The gunman got away by carjacking the instructor's car.

Police say the man then went to an apartment complex about 2 miles away, where he entered an apartment and shot a man. That victim will survive, police said.

A police officer found another man in a neighboring apartment building with multiple gunshot wounds, Flores said. He was listed in critical condition.

The shootings prompted an intense hunt for the gunman as Mesa police searched the trunks of cars, interviewed witnesses and brought in SWAT and canine units from other agencies. Flores warned people in the neighborhood to remain indoors.

Several buildings in the area were placed on lockdown amid a heavy law enforcement presence. The Arizona Department of Public Safety sent its SWAT team to Mesa to assist with the effort, DPS spokesman Bart Graves said. Scottsdale police also sent SWAT and canine units.

East Valley Institute of Technology officials said the school went into lockdown as soon as gunshots were heard. The lockdown lasted more than an hour, according to students. Afternoon classes convened but were made optional.

A nearby Mesa Community College campus issued an emergency alert, saying it was on lockdown and anyone there should proceed to the safest location. The campus remained closed Wednesday.

Vinny Carbone, who owns an auto body shop near the motel and restaurant, said he was getting ready to open when he heard a man yell "help, help" from Bistro 13 across the street. He turned and saw a woman outside the motel with what looked like a bullet hole in her side.

"She was in a chair but she was holding onto another chair, shaking, trying to keep her balance," Carbone said. "Another guy, he had blood on the back of his shirt."

Alex Martin, of Mesa, saw the chaos that ensued.

"I heard several cop cars and ambulances and fire trucks roll up past me. I get here and there's easily 20, 30 police units just swarming the roads," Martin said.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey promised Mesa officials any resources the state could offer.

"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 victims," he said.