Arizona's Sheriff Arpaio says same gun killed deputy, N.H. couple
Drew Ryan Maras, who officials say shot and killed a Maricopa County deputy sheriff on Sunday before being killed in a shootout with police, is the suspect in the mysterious slayings of two other people in Arizona.
At a Tuesday morning news conference, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said that department experts believe the same weapon, a high-powered rifle, was used to kill Deputy William Coleman in Anthem, Ariz., on Sunday, and James Johnson of Jaffrey, N.H., and Carol Raynsford of Nelson, N.H. The bodies of the New Hampshire couple were found in a car near Sedona on Friday.
Accompanied at the news conference by Yavapai County Sheriff Scott Mascher, Arpaio said the cartridges taken from both crime scenes are a match.
“We have two murders within days of each other, within relatively close proximity to one another and both involving a high-powered rifle,” Arpaio said in a prepared statement. “We believed from the outset, these killings were somehow likely connected.”
Coleman and other deputies were responding to a routine burglary call at a medical office in Anthem, a north valley suburb, about 4 a.m. Sunday. A solitary van was in the parking lot, according to the Maricopa County sheriff’s office on Tuesday.
The sheriff’s vehicle pulled up alongside the van, and Coleman got out and tapped on the van to wake the occupant -- Maras -- who opened the door and immediately fired at the deputy, officials said. Two other deputies rushed to Coleman’s aid and fired at Maras.
Coleman was taken to John C. Lincoln Hospital, where he died shortly after arrival. He is the first Maricopa County sheriff’s deputy killed in the line of duty since 1995.
Investigators said that Maras fired 29 rounds, two of which hit Coleman. The deputies fired 41 rounds, according to officials.
There was no indication of a motive in the deaths of the New Hampshire couple, Sheriff Mascher said.
Detectives who spoke to the suspect’s father in Chicago said Maras was in the Marine Corps Reserve and had recently lost a part-time job. He had been living in the Phoenix area for 18 months, in his van and at camp sites, “with his pit bull mix dog as his only companion,” officials stated.
“It is fortunate, considering the weapon Maras used and the amount of ammunition he had, that we didn’t lose all three deputies who responded to the scene,” Arpaio said.
-- Michael Muskal
Photo: Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, shown above in December, met with reporters Tuesday to discuss the separate shootings of a deputy and a New Hampshire couple, linked by the cartridges found at the crime scenes. Credit: Ross D. Franklin / Associated Press