Police arrested a 68-year-old man Monday in connection with the fatal shooting of a photo-radar technician Sunday on the Loop 101 near Seventh Avenue.
Sgt. Andy Hill, Phoenix police spokesman, identified the suspected gunman as Thomas Patrick Destories.
“He made a number of spontaneous statements implicating himself in the homicide, but we’re still in the evidence-gathering stage,” Hill said.
Doug Georgianni, 51, was on the eastbound side of the highway inside a Ford Escape used in the Arizona Department of Public Safety photo-enforcement program when police said Destories pulled up in a 1980s model Chevrolet Suburban and fired several shots at the van about 8:45 p.m.
“Tragically when he shot Mr. Georgianni, (Georgianni) was on the phone with his wife,” Hill said.
Georgianni, an employee of Redflex Traffic Systems, died later at the hospital.
Hill said investigators don’t believe the men knew each other and they still don’t have a motive for the killing.
Investigators got photos of Destories’ vehicle at the scene of the crime.
The photos from Georgianni’s vehicle showed Destories’ vehicle pull up from behind, sit for a short time and then the shots were fired.
Hill said a DPS lieutenant checked out an address where six years ago he used to see a vehicle matching the description of the vehicle in the photos.
|Thomas Patrick Destories|
Investigators set up surveillance on the house and found the Suburban parked in the street.
They watched as Destories moved it into the backyard, fiddle around with another vehicle and then leave on his motorcycle.
They arrested him as he rode in the 800 block of East Paradise Lane, where he lives. Destories has been jailed on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Georgianni was inside the SUV performing routine data collection and monitoring the equipment when he was shot.
He worked at Redflex, the company that has the state contract for the photo-radar program, for three months.
Before police announced the arrest, Redflex said it took its 40 radar vehicles out of service out of concern for the safety of its employees.
“The entire Redflex family is grief-stricken for Doug and his loved ones,” Chief Executive Karen Finley said in a statement.
American Traffic Solutions, which is a competitor of Redflex and has contracts in Mesa, Tucson, Phoenix, Scottsdale and Avondale, took its vans off the street after hearing about the shooting Sunday.
The vans will likely be out of service until Wednesday at least, said Josh Weiss, an ATS spokesman.
Weiss said technicians for his company get extensive training in handling harassment and unhappy drivers, but there will be more discussions with the respective police departments it contracts with to enhance safety.
“We already do a lot,” Weiss, said. “This scenario, we never expected this kind of a thing to occur.”
Arizona’s ground-breaking photo-enforcement program is controversial, with state lawmakers considering legislation to eliminate the program when the contract expires in 2010. Meanwhile, critics have proposed initiative measures to put a repeal on the 2010 ballot.
Other states have limited photo-enforcement programs involving specific highways and construction zones, but Arizona was the first state with a statewide program.
Then-Gov. Janet Napolitano, now the U.S. Homeland Security secretary, had ordered DPS to begin developing the system in early 2007. She also was instrumental in writing the 2008 budget law that launched the program in September.
Napolitano said the program was a way to improve public safety but critics said its inclusion in the budget indicated that increasing state revenue was the real motivation. Critics also say the program isn’t fair to motorists.
DPS officials have said the cameras slow traffic and save lives while freeing up officers to tackle other problems.
The program sends notices to owners of vehicles photographed going at least 11 mph above the posted limit. Civil violations are punishable by a fine and surcharges totaling $181. Through Jan. 31, 34,000 motorists had paid.
In a previous act of violence involving the photo system, a 26-year-old man who damaged a fixed camera with a pickax in Glendale pleaded guilty to criminal damage and was sentenced in Maricopa County Superior Court last month to probation and fined more than $3,500.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report