Killings suspects arrested

August 05, 2006|By NICHOLAS RICCARDI | NICHOLAS RICCARDI,LOS ANGELES TIMES

DENVER -- Phoenix police announced yesterday the arrest of two men on a yearlong shooting spree that left six people dead and more than a dozen injured, and terrorized the sprawling, sun-baked metropolitan area.

Dale S. Hausner, 33, and Samuel John Dieteman, 30, were taken into custody as they left their apartment in Mesa, Ariz., Thursday night. Law enforcement officers - part of a 200-member, multi-agency task force investigating the shootings - seized several guns and towed a Toyota sedan from the gated apartment complex.

The suspects were each being booked for investigation of two counts of first-degree murder in the killing Sunday of Robin Blasnek and the May 2 killing of Claudia Gutierrez-Cruz, and for investigation of 13 counts of attempted first-degree murder, according to the Associated Press. Police said other charges are possible.

"These are the two monsters we've been hunting," Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon said at a City Hall press conference announcing the arrests.

Police said the men were responsible for one of two recent serial killing sprees in the Phoenix area. Still at large is an attacker dubbed the "Baseline Killer," who authorities believe has killed eight people and committed 11 rapes since September.

Investigators said Hausner and Dieteman were being held in a series of crimes that officials had attributed to the "Serial Shooter," who cruised the streets at night in a light-colored sedan, shooting pedestrians and bicyclists seemingly at random. The most recent reported victim was a 22-year-old woman fatally shot while walking to her boyfriend's house Sunday night less than three miles from where Dieteman and Hausner were arrested.

There was little information available yesterday about Dieteman, but Hausner is a boxing photographer and announcer in Phoenix whose pictures have appeared on several sports Web sites. According to associates, Hausner said about a year ago that he was suffering from cancer and scaling back his professional work. He also worked as a janitor at the Phoenix airport.

Manny Stewart, a well-known boxing trainer, said Hausner photographed and announced many fights Stewart worked in the Phoenix area. He recalled Hausner as a well-mannered aficionado who'd bring his mother with him to the gym. "He didn't seem to be an aggressive guy at all," Stewart said.

The Serial Shooter spree appears to have begun in May 2005, when a 56-year-old man was killed while sleeping at a bus stop. Twenty-two other people were shot - five fatally - in a sprawling area that includes eastern and central Phoenix. Four horses, several dogs and a burro also were shot.

Police said yesterday that the victims appeared to have been selected at random. "These individuals just picked folks out, and that was it," Assistant Phoenix Police Chief Kevin Robinson said.

Authorities said Dieteman and Hausner also were believed to be responsible for two arsons at nearby Wal-Marts on June 8 that caused more than $5 million in property damage.

The pair, police said, were identified Monday night as suspects in the shooting spree.

Nicholas Riccardi writes for the Los Angeles Times.

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