Man charged in Phoenix-area shootings appears before judge 

click to enlarge Ryan Giroux
  • AP Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office
  • This undated booking photo provided by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows Ryan Giroux, 41, who Mesa police say committed a string of crimes that included a motel shooting, a carjacking and a home invasion that ended with the suspect's arrest on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Police said the motive for the initial shooting at the motel was unclear but the other three shootings appeared motivated by robbery and the suspect's attempt to flee.

An ex-convict accused of shooting and killing one person and wounding five others in a Phoenix suburb has a history of substance abuse and police run-ins, according to court records.

Ryan Giroux, 41, made his first court appearance Thursday as authorities tried to figure out what triggered the rampage that led to an intense, hourslong hunt for the gunman.

Mesa police said the string of crimes Wednesday included a motel shooting, a carjacking and a home invasion and ended with Giroux's arrest Wednesday at a vacant apartment.

Giroux was jailed Thursday on suspicion of murder and numerous other crimes, including armed robbery, kidnapping and aggravated assault. A judge ordered Giroux held in lieu of $2 million bond.

He was taken into custody after officers spotted him on an apartment balcony and hit him with a stun gun. Numerous officers led the handcuffed man to a truck parked outside the apartment complex.

Police later identified him as Giroux, who has served three stints in state prison since 1994.

An undated 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.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said Giroux is not listed in their database. Spokesman Mark Potok said some of his tattoos, including an "88" tattoo on his left temple, are associated with white supremacy.

A newly released mug shot shows a bloodied and scraped up Giroux without many of his facial tattoos visible.

Police said in a court document that Giroux sustained minor facial and other injuries while resisting arrest and struggling with officers.

The police document also summarized statements in which two witnesses said a man was with Giroux when Giroux fired into a motel room. One of the witnesses, a resident of the motel, said the unidentified companion grabbed Giroux by the shirt "and told him they needed to leave the area," the document said.

Mesa police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the witnesses' statements.

Efforts to identify a lawyer representing Giroux who could comment on the allegations against him were not immediately successful.

During the court appearance, the judge declared Giroux indigent and said he was appointing a lawyer to represent Giroux. A court spokesman said court records indicated Giroux would be represented by the Maricopa County Public Defender's Office. Amanda Martin, an office supervisor, declined to confirm that the office represents Giroux or to comment on his case.

Police said the motive for the shooting at the motel was unclear, but the other three shootings appeared motivated by robbery and the suspect's attempt to flee.

The shootings started with an argument inside a motel room that spilled outside, leaving David James Williams, 29, dead and two women wounded, Mesa police Detective Esteban Flores said. The women were Williams' mother, Lydia Marie Nielson, 51, and Jessica Lee Burgess, 19.

The gunman then shot Isaac Martinez, 20, who was working at a nearby restaurant. Martinez, a culinary student at the nearby East Valley Institute of Technology, was able to run across the street to emergency responders at the motel, Flores said. Seven students and an instructor were working at Bistro 13 restaurant. Martinez has been treated at a hospital and released.

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

Police say the man then went to an apartment complex about 2 miles away, where he went into an apartment and shot Donavon Worker, 24. Worker is expected to survive, police said.

A police officer then found Marcus Butler, 25, in a neighboring apartment building with multiple gunshot wounds. Flores said Butler was in critical but stable condition Thursday and is expected to recover.

The shootings set off an intense hunt for the gunman. Mesa police searched the trunks of cars and brought in SWAT and canine units from other agencies.

Giroux served prison terms totaling more than eight years for burglary, theft, attempted aggravated assault and a marijuana violation, according to an Arizona Department of Corrections profile.

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 after a run-in with police outside a Mesa convenience store.

According to court documents, Giroux shoplifted a bag of potato chips in December 2006, resisted arrest once outside the business and started to fight with two responding police officers. The officers said Giroux reached for a gun in his waistband. Giroux denied reaching for his gun and claimed officers beat him.

At his 2007 sentencing, he was a divorced father with a GED and a certification in fighting wildfires. He also was using cocaine, heroin, LSD and methamphetamines off and on for the past 20 years, according to court records. He sought substance abuse treatment but never finished.

Giroux was released in late 2013. Last year, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge allowed Giroux to remain on probation despite an unspecified probation violation.

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