PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona weapons experts believe that one person used the same weapon to gun down a sheriff’s deputy in Phoenix and a New Hampshire couple at a remote highway turnout near Sedona, authorities said Tuesday.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Deputy William Coleman was gunned down Sunday at a north Phoenix medical building while answering a burglary call. A man got out of a van and opened fire.
On Friday, James Johnson of Jaffrey, N.H., and Carol Raynsford of Nelson, N.H., were found dead in a sedan at a remote highway turnout near Sedona.
The deaths of the New Hampshire friends have baffled authorities and led to speculation that the killings were committed by Drew Ryan Maras, who died in Sunday’s shootout with officers in Phoenix.
Similar guns — high-powered rifles — are believed to have been used in both cases, and the crime scenes are connected by Interstate 17.
The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office announced the link between the two shootings in a statement handed out to reporters before a Tuesday morning news conference.
Detectives in Yavapai County found numerous casings from a .223-caliber rifle on both sides of Johnson and Raynsford’s car. Some callers reported seeing the car parked at the turnout on Thursday.
Johnson and Raynsford, both 62, were looking for a house for Johnson and planned to head home at the end of the month, said Raynsford’s piano teacher and friend, Jayne Kelly. The pair belonged to a nonprofit group that adopts and preserves parts of a 48-mile hiking trail from Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire.
Coleman, 50, was a 20-year veteran. He is survived by a wife and two young children, ages 4 and 7. He also has grown children in another state. He was assigned as a patrol deputy but had previously worked the sheriff’s lake patrol unit.
Maras, 30, attended Arizona State University in 2004 but was not currently enrolled, university spokeswoman Julie Newberg said.
Before that, he served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003, completing infantry training with a specialty as a rifleman before joining a reserve unit in Chicago, Marine Maj. Shawn Haney said.
Associated Press writers Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz., and Kathy McCormack in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.