SURPRISE, Ariz. - One person was killed and 12 others were injured in a series of reported drive-by shootings over a 90-minute span on June 17 in Peoria, Glendale, and Surprise, authorities said.
Ashin Tricarico, 19, is accused of opening fire on vehicles and pedestrians from a white SUV on Thursday in at least eight separate shootings in three cities that stoked fear throughout the region. Four people were shot, including a man whose pickup truck careened into a canal alongside a freeway.
Police said a weapon was found in his vehicle.
"About one or two marked cars, and the rest were unmarked," said Chris Coyne, who lives next door to Tricarico. "They just filled the cul-de-sac."
Coyne says a family just moved into the home next to his a couple of months ago.
"That is very surprising," said Coyne. "They’ve been very quiet. I’ve only seen them once since they moved in."
Details of shooting spree released
Documents police filed in Maricopa County Superior Court allege Tricarico fired at more than a dozen people, seemingly at random. In some cases, he pulled up beside vehicles and placed the barrel of an assault rifle through his window and fired multiple shots, police said.
According to police, the incident began when a drive-by shooting was reported in the area of 103rd and Northern Avenues. Witnesses provided authorities with a description of the getaway vehicle, a white Volkswagen Tiguan.
In one incident, a 3-year-old child was in one vehicle with her mother when the front windshield and driver’s side door were hit, but wasn’t harmed. The mother told police she heard three gunshots while driving and immediately felt pain in her arm, stomach and head. She was covered in blood and screaming "oh my god," according to witness statements.
Authorities said the injured ranged in age from 19 to 56.
"At approximately 12:42 p.m., a member of the Surprise Fire-Medical Department was aware of the suspect vehicle description and located the vehicle in the area of 147th Avenue and Grand Avenue. The employee notified Surprise Police who responded, stopped the vehicle and took the suspect into custody. A weapon was located on scene," said Brandon Sheffert with Peoria Police.
In all, four people suffered gunshot wounds, and one of those victims was found dead in a vehicle near Thunderbird Road on Loop 101. The freeway was closed during the investigation, but has since reopened.
A witness told police he saw the suspect drive up behind the truck and swerve into the lane beside it and then he heard a gunshot. Police later found the man’s body inside the truck with a gunshot wound to the neck and his head, face and body covered in blood, the court documents state.
The other victims had a range of injuries such as shrapnel from broken glass or injuries related to a car crash, Sheffert said.
Officials at Banner Health said they received nine patients at three of their hospitals. But the extent of the victims’ injuries and their conditions were not immediately released.
Peoria police got the initial call about a shooting shortly after 11 a.m., and eight more incidents were reported in the following 90 minutes, Sheffert said.
An investigation determined that the suspect had been involved in at least eight other incidents in Peoria, Glendale and Surprise near the following locations:
- 103rd Avenue / West Northern Avenue. 23-year-old woman suffered injuries from shrapnel.
- Loop 101 / Thunderbird Road. Victim, identified as 67-year-old David Liebler, died from gunshot wound.
- 110th Avenue / West Union Hills Drive. 45-year-old man suffered injuries from shrapnel, while 19-year-old woman suffered gunshot wound to the leg
- 111th Avenue / West Union Hills Drive. 40-year-old woman was inside the car when shots were fired, but not injured.
- 109th Avenue / West Union Hills Drive. 29-year-old man suffered shrapnel injuries.
- 21800 N. El Mirage Road. 86-year-old woman suffered shrapnel injuries
- Loop 303 / Happy Valley Road. Two victims suffered shrapnel injuries.
A map showing where all of the shootings occurred.
On the Peoria Police Department's Facebook page, officials stated, "The male suspect was booked on the following charges: 1st Degree Murder, Aggravated Assault (Multiple Counts), Drive by Shooting (Multiple Counts), Endangerment. Please note that charges may be amended or added as needed dependent on the investigation."
Peoria Police say the victims range in age from 19 to 56 years old.
Police: Suspect admits to involvement
Police officials say Tricarico has admitted to being the shooter. All told, investigators accuse him of shooting at 13 people in 90 minutes.
According to court documents, Tricarico went to Cabela's to buy four boxes of ammunition for the rifle before the shootings. Surprise Police recovered an AR-15 in the Volkwagen when they arrested him outside of a church.
Police said Tricarico admitted to some of the shootings and declined to talk about others but denied firing at a woman or killing the man, whom police haven’t identified. Tricarico told police he was involved in another shooting a month ago in Phoenix while he was a security guard and believed people have been following him because of it, according to the court documents.
Tricarico also connected with other shootings prior to June 17
According to investigators, Tricarico has been linked to some shootings that took place prior to the ones on June 17.
They say on May 5, Tricarico was working as a security guard at a restaurant when he claimed an intoxicated customer charged at him, so he shot him once in self defense.
Police said the man was taken to a hospital with a non-life-threatening injury, and Tricarico remained at the restaurant and cooperated with investigators. The case is still being investigated, and the gun he used was impounded and has remained in police custody.
"Ashin thinks every vehicle and person he drives past is pointing a gun at him," police wrote.
"We don’t know the nexus, we don’t know what the motive was, we don’t have an idea of what this person was thinking when he went out and did this," Sheffert said at a news conference on June 17. "Obviously we want to figure this out because there’s a lot of scared people and people this affected."
Police departments in Peoria, Surprise and Glendale were investigating the shootings in their cities, along with the Arizona Department of Public Safety and the FBI.
According to a statement released by Peoria Police on June 22, Tricarico has been connected to a shooting on June 10 and a shooting on June 16.
The incident on June 10 took place near 87th Avenue and Lake Pleasant Parkway, and Tricarico is accused of pointing a gun at a 34-year-old woman. That woman was not hurt.
The other incident on June 16 took place near 94th Avenue and Olive, and Tricarico is accused of shooting at a car with a 46-year-old man inside, That man was also not hurt.
Tricarico made court appearance on June 18
Tricarico, who was arrested Thursday, appeared remotely for a court hearing Friday and was directed to contact a public defender.
The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender did not have a specific attorney assigned to Tricarico, whose next court hearing is scheduled for June 24. He faces charges of first-degree murder, shooting from a vehicle, aggravated assault and endangerment.
Anyone with information should leave an anonymous tip by calling Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS. Spanish speakers can leave an anonymous tip by calling Testigo Silencioso at 480-TESTIGO.
Si tiene alguna información sobre este caso, llame a la línea de Testigo Silencioso (480-TESTIGO, 480-837-8446).
Arrest scene near 147th Avenue and Grand Avenue in Surprise (Peoria Police Dept.)
Shooting victim speaks out
One victim is speaking out after he says he was dangerously close to losing his life.
"Yeah, I don't even know the guy," said Richard Valencia. "It was completely random."
Valencia spoke out after being discharged from Banner Del Webb Hospital. His left arm was bandaged after suffering a gunshot wound.
He says he was talking from the QuikTrip near 114th Avenue and Bell Road when someone in a white SUV started firing shots at him.
"The guy shot me," Valencia said. "He was in a white vehicle, I heard four or five shots. After I felt the shot, I pulled mine out, let three off back at him."
Valencia says he called his mother immediately and spent the afternoon in the hospital.
"I got hit once in the shoulder basically, and it went out this way," he explained. "Didn't hit any vital organs or any vital nerves or anything like that - went straight through in and out."
He says he's relieved the suspect is in custody, but is saddened by the number of people injured and the loss of someone's life.
Regardless, he's thankful he's alive.
"A centimeter over and I wouldn't have been standing here with you talking," Valencia said.
Witnesses describe the scene
Pastor Neil Betrue captured video outside Church of the Nations in Surprise as police arrested a suspect in a drive-by shooting spree.
"Heard the helicopter overhead, saw a bunch of police officers in the parking lot, looked out, saw police officers forcing everyone to get back in their businesses," Betrue said.
The shootings led to numerous road closures, backing up traffic in the West Valley for hours.
"Because of road closures, there were cars backed up as far as I could see in both directions," said Ariana Newton.
Newton says she and her daughter went home as soon as she learned there was a shooter on the loose.
The suspect ended up being arrested right down the street from their house.
"I’ve heard about it on the news cause there are a lot of mass shootings, but you never think it is going to be so close to your house," Newton said. "It could’ve been me, could’ve been you."
As for Pastor Betrue, he says his thoughts tonight turn to the victims and their families.
"Of course my heart breaks for the families. The victims - we are praying for them."
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.