Police plan to reach out to the Spanish-speaking community as they
continue efforts to inform the public about a pair of serial
predators in metropolitan Phoenix.
Officials are organizing a community meeting to be held in Spanish next week, said Sgt. Andy Hill, a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department.
Police hope the meeting will generate more tips on the cases and offer a chance for possible additional victims of the criminals to come forward. Hill said it's possible there are victims who haven't yet come forward because they are illegally in the United States.
Many illegal immigrants avoid contact with police for fear they will be deported, and crimes they have witnessed or that have been committed against them often go unreported.
"As we move out deeper into the community, especially with reaching out to the Spanish-speaking community, we believe there may be other victims out there that haven't come forward," Hill said. "We want that information. We need that information. There will not be sanctions to victims who come forward as far as their status in this community other than the fact that they are victims."
But even immigrants who are in the country legally often fail to report crimes, sometimes because they are not fluent in English.
"There are a lot of folks here in the Valley that may have limited English skills, and they can still very much be witnesses or know something about these crimes, so we want to step forward and go out to that community and seek their assistance," said Police Chief Jack Harris.
The "Baseline Killer" has been linked to a series of sexual assaults, robberies and six killings. The "Serial Shooter" has been definitively connected to four incidents - the Dec. 29 wounding of a man and the shootings of several dogs and a horse. But, the shooter is believed responsible for five killings and 17 shootings targeting people, including the nonfatal Saturday shooting of a 30-something Mesa man who was riding his bicycle to work.
Police have not released the man's name, where on his body he was shot or what type of gun was used.
Holly Hosac, a spokeswoman for the Mesa Police Department, said the man had no information on who shot him or why. He didn't even realize he was shot until he felt a sharp pain and saw the blood, she said.
However, Hosac said the incident is the only one of its kind in Mesa, where an average of one homicide occurred every 12 days in 2005. That same year, a homicide occurred at least every 38 hours in Phoenix, where both serial predators have concentrated their crimes.
Only five incidents targeting humans related to the two serial killers occurred in cities on the outskirts of Phoenix - one killing each in Scottsdale and Tolleson, a killing and robbery in Tempe, and now a shooting in Mesa.
Hosac said officers in the department's Crime Prevention Unit are tentatively planning a personal safety presentation in light of Saturday's shooting. She said the presentation will be given in English and Spanish.
On the Net:
Phoenix Police Department: http://phoenix.gov/POLICE/
Mesa Police Department: http://www.cityofmesa.org/police/default.asp
Silent Witness: http://www.silentwitness.org/