Suspect Arrested in Arizona Shooting Spree That Killed 4

Police say man was motivated by hatred of drugs, homelessness
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 29, 2023 1:30 AM CDT
Suspect Arrested in Arizona Shooting Spree That Left 4 Dead
Iren Byers   (Mesa Police Department)

Four people were killed and a fifth injured in separate shootings Friday and Saturday in Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona, and on Sunday police took a suspect into custody. Police say Iren Byers, 20, was motivated by a hatred of drugs and homelessness, AZFamily reports. He faces four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder, AZCentral reports. The news outlets offer a timeline of the allegations against him:

  • On Friday afternoon, while walking with Nicholas Arnstad, 41, in Phoenix, Byers allegedly shot Arnstad in the head because the other man was smoking fentanyl, a drug Byers' brother had also abused in the past. Arnstad's body was quickly found.

  • On Friday night, police say Julian Cox, 41, spoke to Byers in a park in Mesa about taking fentanyl pills, and Byers shot him in the head as well. His body was also found quickly.
  • Byers allegedly met Stephen Young, 41, at a Circle K near the park and while riding light rail together, Young spoke about wanting to smoke fentanyl. Walking down the street together, police say Byers shot Young in the head; his body was also found quickly.
  • Byers then allegedly met John Swain, 40, nearby while walking along railroad tracks and allegedly shot Swain in the head after Swain said he was homeless and not from the area. His body was also found quickly.
  • Finally, police say Byers met Angela Fonseca, 36, shortly thereafter while walking down the street nearby, and allegedly shot her in the face because she angered him. She was found injured less than two hours after Cox was fatally shot. She was in stable condition as of Sunday morning.
Police used surveillance footage to identify Byers and he was ultimately found near his grandmother's apartment complex. They say he confessed to all five shootings and told police where they could locate the gun, which they found at his residence while executing a search warrant. (More Phoenix stories.)

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