A longtime white supremacist who is associated with major racist groups and has a long history of drug abuse allegedly murdered one person and wounded five more during a March 18 shooting spree in Mesa, Ariz. The spree began with an argument in a motel room and apparently had nothing to do with ideology.
Ryan Giroux, 41, who was arrested after a massive manhunt, had a long rap sheet including arrests for attempted murder, aggravated assault, burglary, and drug possession. He’d served time in California, Washington and Arizona, and was most recently released from an Arizona prison in 2013.
According to a retired Mesa police detective who once infiltrated local skinhead groups, Giroux was a member of the Hammerskin Nation, one of the oldest, most violent racist skinhead organizations in the country. He has also been an associate of the Aryan Brotherhood, a national prison gang known for violence both in and out of prison, according to the detective.
The Arizona prison system’s mug shot of Giroux shows his face covered in white supremacist tattoos: the words “SKIN” and “HEAD” where his shaven eyebrows once were; the number “88,” which is neo-Nazi code for “Heil Hitler” (H is the 8th letter of the alphabet) on his left temple; and, on his chin in place of a beard, an intricate symbol known as “Thor’s Hammer,” which is used by followers of Odinism, a pre-Christian faith popular among white supremacists.
A more recent photo shows that those tattoos have been removed. Officials said Giroux apparently had them taken off before the Mesa shooting spree.
The spree began when Giroux allegedly shot three people at Mesa’s Tri City Inn. A man died at the scene and two women were wounded. Giroux then allegedly ran across the street and shot a man there before hijacking a car from a woman in the parking lot of a nearby technical school. Officials say he drove to a large apartment complex about a mile away and shot and wounded a man outside, then crossed the street and broke into an apartment, leaving its occupant unhurt.
Mesa police quickly cornered Giroux there and captured him using Tasers, then led him away from the scene in a DNA suit designed to preserve evidence.
Predictably, reports of the rampage made their way to white supremacist forums, where members debated how to receive the news. “The next great white defendant?” wondered one member of Vanguard News Network (VNN), a vicious neo-Nazi forum whose slogan is “No Jews. Just right.” Another member dubbed Giroux “[m]isguided at best, a poser at worst.”
On Stormfront, the largest racist Web forum, Giroux was described as an “idiot.” “OMG!” wrote one user. “Please tell me he’s not one of ‘ours’?”