Court docs: Man’s hatred for drugs, homelessness led to deadly shooting spree

Court paperwork shows most of the victims in a deadly shooting spree in Phoenix and Mesa were homeless and the suspect was angry toward people who used drugs.
Published: May. 29, 2023 at 5:53 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

MESA, Ariz. (KPHO/Gray News) - New court documents indicate a man’s hatred for drugs and homelessness was why he went on a deadly shooting spree in two Arizona cities that left four people dead and one injured.

The shootings started around 2:45 p.m. Friday in Phoenix. Court documents provided to Arizona’s Family say 20-year-old Iren Byers was walking along the canal with 41-year-old Nicholas Arnstad, who was smoking fentanyl. Byers allegedly shot Arnstad in the head because of his drug use and because Byers’ brother also abused fentanyl.

Police found Arnstad dead a few minutes later.

Later in the day, police say Byers went to Mesa’s Beverly Park and met 41-year-old Julian Cox on the south side of the park. Court paperwork says Cox talked to Byers about using “blues,” which is a street name for fentanyl pills, so Byers allegedly shot him in the head and took off.

Cox’s body was discovered just before 10:30 p.m.

Byers then met 41-year-old Stephen Young at a nearby Circle K and started talking to him while riding the light rail toward Country Club Drive. Byers said he wanted to smoke weed, but Young wanted to smoke fentanyl. While walking down County Club, Byers allegedly shot Young in the head and ran off.

Young’s body was found outside a bus depot at midnight Saturday.

Byers started talking to 40-year-old John Swain, walking along the railroad tracks nearby. Swain said he was homeless and not from the area, so Byers later told investigators he shot him in the head, according to court paperwork. Swain fell down the hill, and Byers allegedly continued to shoot him.

At 12:02 a.m., patrols found Swain dead.

Police say Byers met his final victim while walking on Main Street near a hotel. Byers later admitted he talked with 36-year-old Angela Fonseca until she made him mad then shot her in the face, court paperwork said. She was found at 12:14 a.m. about a half-mile away from Beverly Park.

Fonseca was taken to the hospital and underwent multiple surgeries. She’s expected to survive.

Officers say they found Byers near his grandmother’s apartment complex, and he was initially arrested on a trespassing charge. Detectives said he was cooperative, admitted to all five shootings and told them they could find the clothes and 9mm gun he used inside a fanny pack in his grandmother’s bedroom.

According to court documents, at least one casing from each scene matched the same handgun, which they found in the fanny pack. They also state Byers told detectives he didn’t call 911 or help the victims because they didn’t deserve it.

Investigators also located video surveillance footage from Circle K, light rail and a home nearby in Mesa. Byers was seen in all videos wearing the same clothes as the shooter described by witnesses.

Byers was arrested and booked into jail on four counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder. He is being held with no bond.

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