The man accused of shooting six people, one of them fatally, in Mesa, Arizona, is a 41-year-old neo-Nazi skinhead named Ryan Elliot Giroux with a long prison record, police and human rights activists said Wednesday.
Giroux, whose identity Mesa police confirmed Wednesday night, has done several stretches in Arizona prisons for a variety of crimes, including assault, burglary and theft. He also racked up a list of violations while in prison. His last sentence ended in 2013, and he was released from parole supervision in October of last year, records show.
Mark Potok, editor of Hatewatch, a bulletin on hate crimes published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, reported that the many tattoos on Giroux's face and torso were associated with neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups. Specifically, Potok wrote, the number 88 on his left temple is neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler," since H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
Potok quoted a retired Mesa police detective who identified Giroux as a member of a skinhead group called Hammerskin Nation.
Giroux was shot with a Taser and taken into custody just after 1 p.m. (3 p.m. ET), Mesa police said. He was found during a search of a condominium complex in which police spotted him on a balcony of a vacant home, police spokesman Esteban Flores said.
The rampage began at 8:40 a.m. at the Tri-City Motel Inn on West Main Street, where an argument exploded into gunfire, police said. One man died at the scene, and two women were taken to a hospital with gunshot wounds.
Not long after, gunfire erupted at a nearby restaurant called Bistro-13, across the street from East Valley Institute of Technology, Flores said. An EVIT student was shot at the restaurant, where Giroux crajcked a gray Honda Accord driven by a teacher and drove to an apartment complex less than two miles away on South Dobson Road, police said.
Giroux forced his way into an apartment, where he shot a man, police said. That victim is also expected to survive.
Then came reports of another shooting victim at an apartment complex about a quarter-mile away. A man shot there remains in critical condition, Flores said.
Giroux is believed to have acted alone. Police said they were still interviewing him and had discovered no motive.