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Man arrested in deadly Arizona shooting spree

Four people were killed when a man went on a shooting rampage.
Posted at 10:36 AM, May 29, 2023

Police have identified the man they say was involved in four shootings in Mesa, Arizona, that left three people dead and another injured. Officials believe the man is also connected to a fifth shooting in Phoenix that killed a man Friday afternoon.

Twenty-year-old Iren Byers is in custody, facing four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Court documents say Byers was seen in security footage near 25th and Sheridan streets in Phoenix wearing a red shirt, black fanny pack over his shoulder, black pants, and black shoes at about 2:45 p.m.

The security footage allegedly shows Byers "make a furtive movement toward the victim consistent with pointing a gun." An apparent gunshot is then heard in the footage.

When police arrived, they found 41-year-old Nicholas Arnstad dead.

Court documents say Byers identified himself in the security footage and told investigators he shot Arnstad because he was "abusing fentanyl, which he did not like since [Byers'] brother abused the drug too."

Mesa Police Department

The second shooting happened around 10:30 p.m. Friday at a park near North Beverly and Main Street in Mesa.

Surveillance video from a nearby apartment showed a man leaving the apartment complex and passing through an open fence to get into Beverly Park. A single gunshot is heard on the footage, according to court documents.

When officers arrived, they found the body of 41-year-old Julian Cox.

Documents say Byers shot Cox because he was talking about "blues." Mesa police officials confirm "blues" refers to fentanyl.

While at the park, officials say officers heard shots fired nearby and began searching the area.

Around midnight on Saturday, officers found a third victim near Country Club Drive and 2nd Avenue.

A witness told investigators she noticed a man with a red shirt, black pants and a black fanny pack following her when she got off the light rail at Country Club Drive, according to court documents. She said she saw the man walk south on Country Club toward Broadway with another man.

Court documents say she watched them until she lost sight of them and heard a "loud pop." She then saw the same man she thought was following her run from the area.

Byers told investigators he met 41-year-old Stephen Young at a Circle K and talked to him while riding the light rail.

According to court documents, Byers told Young he wanted to smoke weed, but after Young said he wanted to smoke "blues," Byers shot him.

Angela Fonseca, 36, was then found around 12:15 a.m. near North Stewart and Main Street with at least one gunshot wound. She was taken to the hospital with serious injuries, though she is expected to survive.

Byers told investigators he met Fonseca while walking on Main Street near a hotel and he talked to her until "she made him mad so he shot her," court documents say.

The last victim, identified as 40-year-old John Swain, was found around 2 a.m. close to the train tracks near Extension Road and 2nd Avenue with apparent gunshot wounds.

Byers told investigators he met Swain while walking on the railroad tracks.

Swain told Byers he was homeless, according to court documents. Byers allegedly then shot him multiple times.

Byers told investigators that he did have a cell phone in his possession and did not call for medical aid because the victims "didn't deserve it," court documents say.

Byers also told investigators that the clothes that he was wearing and the gun that he used were in an apartment near Beverly Park. Officials obtained a search warrant and found a red shirt, black pants, black shoes and a black fanny pack inside the apartment. A loaded 9 mm handgun was found inside the fanny pack, according to court documents.

Byers has been booked into the Maricopa County jail for four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

Mesa Mayor John Giles spoke out in a statement, saying he is deeply disturbed by the violence.

"Mesa residents deserve a safe and peaceful city. Unfortunately, incidents like this are all too common in large and small cities throughout the country. Despite last night's horrific act by one person, Mesa is one of the safest large cities in America and that is due in large part to our excellent police department," the mayor said.

The shootings are currently under investigation.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact the Mesa Police Department at (480) 644-2211.

This story was published by Scripps News Phoenix.