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Man confesses to string of deadly Arizona shootings, blaming his hatred of drugs and homelessness

Iren Byers, 20, was arrested for trespassing before he allegedly admitted to shooting dead four men and gravely injuring a fifth woman in Mesa and Phoenix

Bevan Hurley
Monday 29 May 2023 15:32 BST
4 dead in string of Mesa, Phoenix shootings

A 20-year-old Arizona man who allegedly confessed to shooting four people dead and wounding a fifth person told police he carried out the killing spree due to a hatred of drugs and homelessness, court documents show.

Iren Byers claimed responsibility for the shootings after he was taken into custody for trespassing near Main St and Extension Rd in Mesa, Phoenix, on Sunday, according to a statement from the Mesa Police Department.

Mr Byers was cooperative and told police where they could find a 9mm handgun and clothing he had been wearing during the shootings, according to the release.

Shell casings from each of the shootings in Mesa and Phoenix were linked to the 9mm pistol found in a fanny pack in his room at his grandmother’s apartment, police said.

The first shooting occurred at around 2.45pm on Friday near 26th and Oak St, in east Phoenix.

According to the documents obtained by The Independent, Mr Byers said he had been walking along a canal with with 41-year-old Nicholas Arnstad.

Mr Byers told police he shot Arnstad in the head because he was smoking fentanyl, which had angered him because his brother had also abused the deadly opiate.

Police found Arnstad’s body soon afterwards.

Mesa police officers were called to Beverly Park at about 10.30pm on Friday night where they found the body of 41-year-old Julian Cox, according to the statement.

Iren Byers, 20, has been arrested in connection with five shootings in the Phoenix metro area (Mesa Police Department)

Mr Byers later claimed he had shot Cox in the head after he started talking about using “blues”, which is a street name for fentanyl, according to the court papers.

Mr Byers told investigators he then met Stephen Young, 41, at a Circle K and rode with him on light rail. Mr Byers claimed that he wanted to smoke marijuana, and that Young spoke about using fentanyl.

He allegedly confessed to shooting Young in the head before taking off.

Police found Young’s body near a Greyhound station on Country Club Rd at about midnight.

Mr Byers told investigators he then met 40-year-old John Swain, who he said was homeless and not from the Phoenix area, while walking on nearby railroad tracks, according to the probable cause statement.

He said he shot Swain once, and continued to shoot him as he fell down a hill, according to the court papers.

Officers found his body near Extension Road and Main Street at about 1am on Saturday.

Mr Byers then met his final victim, identified as 36-year-old Angela Fonseca, while walking on Main St.

He claimed to have shot her in the face after getting angry at her.

Ms Fonseca was found just after midnight, and was taken to hospital where she was underwent several surgeries. Doctors say she is expected to survive.

Mr Byers was initially arrested on a trespassing charge, and was reportedly cooperative with police officers.

He allegedly told investigators they could find the 9mm handgun and clothing at his grandmother’s house, police said. At least one shell casing from each crime scene matched the weapon, according to documents.

Security footage also showed Mr Byers wearing clothes that matched the recovered items, the papers stated.

Mr Byers has been booked into prison without bond on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.

“Knowing that Iren Byers will have to face the consequences of his unjustified actions is the start of justice to be seen,” Mesa Police Detective Brandi George said in a statement.

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