PHOENIX (AP) - A man killed in a shootout with Arizona Department of Public Safety officers and a security guard on a Tempe freeway Monday has been identified as an ex-convict out of Colorado, authorities said.
But they said it won’t be known if 25-year-old Andrew Rael is connected to one Phoenix-area killing on Sunday and possibly another earlier Monday until evidence is analyzed and forensic tests can be completed.
Tempe police said Rael has an extensive criminal history and was recently released from a Colorado prison, although details of his five-year sentence weren’t immediately released.
The gunbattle occurred after DPS officers used tire-puncturing strips to stop the man’s car on U.S. 60 following a chase on Interstate 10 across much of the Phoenix area, DPS and Tempe police spokesmen said.
The armed security guard got involved after happening upon the scene, according to authorities. One DPS officer suffered cuts from flying glass, but no other officers were injured.
At a news conference Monday afternoon, Buckeye police said they believe Rael is connected to the shooting death of a tow-truck driver on Sunday in that city and the killing of convenience-store employee earlier Monday in Glendale.
“The positive ID for the Glendale shooting is pending physical evidence although Buckeye investigators believe it is the same suspect,” police said in a statement.
A tow-truck driver identified as Michael Psalidas, 49, of Overgaard, was fatally shot outside an auto-repair business in Buckeye. The tow truck was found abandoned at another location later Sunday.
Police said the suspect and Psalidas reportedly argued about payment over the tow before the shooting.
Glendale police said Rael matched the description of a suspect sought in the death of the store employee.
However, the link hasn’t been confirmed, said Officer Tracey Breeden, a Glendale police spokeswoman.
Breeden said 26-year-old employee Daniel Scott White was shot outside the store following a verbal altercation with a male customer.
White had confronted the man as he left the store after pumping gasoline into his vehicle, but police said the motive for the shooting was unclear.
White suffered several gunshots wounds and was later declared dead at a hospital.