PHOENIX (AP) -- The two men charged in a series of random shootings had flagged down police officers arriving at the site of one of the attacks, authorities said Friday.
Sam Dieteman and Dale Hausner were at the scene of the May 30 shooting of James Hodge in west Phoenix and directed officers to the wounded man, police Sgt. Andy Hill said.
The men told officers they had been out looking for a missing cat and heard Hodge screaming, Hill said. Officers considered the men witnesses at the time, but also entered their names into a database assembled by a task force investigating the crimes.
Hausner told police he heard tires squealing in the parking lot, where he was able to flag down police, but Hodge, who survived the gunshot wound to his back, said he never heard a vehicle, according to the police report.
Police did not realize the two men had been interviewed as witnesses until after their arrest in early August, Hill said.
Dieteman and Hausner are charged with his shooting. All together, both face two counts of murder and 14 counts of attempted murder connected to a yearlong shooting spree across the metropolitan area.
Dieteman, 30, and Hausner, 33, were arrested by a task force investigating 37 shootings dating back to May 2005. Seven people were killed and 17 wounded, and several animals also were shot.
Police first became aware of Dieteman's possible involvement in the shootings June 20 after a tip. But when a detective entered Dieteman's name in a database, nothing came up because Dieteman's name had been spelled wrong.
Hill did not know whether Dieteman purposely misspelled the name or whether investigators made an error. Although Hausner's name was spelled correctly, police weren't aware of him until late July, just before they arrested the pair.
The task force also is searching for another serial predator, dubbed the "Baseline Killer," who has been forensically linked to eight killings and several robberies.
"It's not a surprise that at some point in a serial investigation you'll find out that you had some kind of contact or presence of a suspect or suspects at one of the incidents," Hill
said. "We will not be surprised if and when the Baseline Killer suspect is arrested that we did have some contact there."