- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 21, 2009

PHOENIX (AP) - A suspect arrested in the shooting death of a man operating a photo radar van along a freeway told police he didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt, according to a court document released Tuesday.

Thomas Patrick Destories was riding his motorcycle when he was arrested Monday on a first-degree murder charge in the death of 51-year-old Doug Georgianni, who was shot Sunday night in the photo radar van.

“I’m sorry. I was going to turn myself in,” Destories, 68, told police, according to a probable cause statement filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. “I didn’t mean for anyone to get hurt. I saw it (the shooting) on the news. The gun is in the saddlebag.”

Police said they had not determined a motive for the shooting.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Destories had a lawyer. He was being held in Maricopa County jail on a $2 million bond and was due to appear in court Monday.

A call to Destories’ Phoenix home went to voice mail, which was full. Calls to his family were not returned or their voice mail was full.

Phoenix police Sgt. Andy Hill said Monday that investigators determined a first-degree murder charge was appropriate because of an analysis of items found at the scene and statements Destories made to police. Hill’s comment came when asked about the assumption many people make that photo radar vans aren’t manned.

Five large-caliber gunshots hit the marked Department of Public Safety van; three were grouped on the window of Georgianni’s seat, according to the probable cause statement.

Police found a magazine for a .45-caliber pistol in Destories’ front pocket when they arrested him, the statement said.

Georgianni had worked for three months for RedFlex Traffic Systems Inc., which has a state contract to operate the photo radar systems.

He was sitting in the van doing paperwork with an interior light turned on when he was shot, according to the probable cause statement. Hill said investigators believe Destories stopped behind the van and then slowly pulled alongside it and fired a gun multiple times.

His sister, Melanie Georgianni, told The Associated Press that Georgianni called his wife after he was shot, and she called 911. It was the last time the two spoke.

Melanie Georgianni said her brother took his job as a photo radar operator seriously.

“He knew that he was serving the public and was helping to uphold the law and helping to keep the streets safer for the community,” she said. “For that, he really enjoyed what he did.”

She said Georgianni and his wife married in 2006 and were planning to celebrate their anniversary next week. “They just took great, great joy in the simple things every day,” she said.

She said everyone in the family, including Georgianni’s parents and six siblings, are in “terrible shock.

“It’s one thing to lose a loved one, but to lose one in this manner _ you can’t describe the feelings and the thoughts that go through your head about what happened,” she said.

Arizona became the first state to use photo speed enforcement on state highways last year.

Critics say the program is costly and unfair to motorists. Proponents say photo radar saves lives by slowing motorists and frees up police to tackle other problems.

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