Vigilant Solutions announces today that its license plate recognition (LPR) data and online investigative tools were used by the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center’s (ACTIC) Criminal Investigation Research Unit (CIRU) in an investigation connecting the murderer of a Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff to a double homicide.
Sergeant J.D. Williamson of ACTIC recounts the tragic events, “On the morning of January 6, 2012, two individuals were found in their sedan at a remote turnout on Arizona Highway 89A near the scenic resort town of Sedona, Arizona. They were shot with a .223-caliber rifle and several shell casings were retrieved at the scene. Police asked the public to call authorities if they saw what the Police believed was the suspect’s vehicle, a 1998 Toyota Sienna mini-van with Illinois license plates, which had been recently seen in the area.”
“Two days later, Maricopa County Deputy Sheriff William Coleman, age 50, was shot and killed while responding to a burglary call in Anthem, Arizona at approximately 4:15 am. As Coleman and another deputy arrived at the scene they encountered a male subject inside of a van at a medical building. As they attempted to make contact with the subject he opened fire on them with a rifle, striking Deputy Coleman below his vest. The suspect was killed by return gunfire from other deputies,” states Williamson.
Maricopa County Sheriff’s Department Investigators then contacted ACTIC in an effort to create a timeline of the suspect’s recent movements and locate a current address. Williamson adds, “The vehicle was registered out of state and the suspect was believed to be the registered owner’s son. Although much information was gained through law enforcement research systems, CIRU was unable to locate a local address for the suspect because he had only recently moved to Arizona. The license plate was entered into Vigilant Solutions’ system of over 1 billion license plates, and this historical Vigilant license plate reader data provided investigators with information about the suspect’s movements prior to the three homicides. Using this information, we were able to determine a local address that could not be found in any other system. Based on this information, Detectives were able to serve a search warrant on the suspect’s residence.” Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, said ballistic experts from his office confirmed the cartridges retrieved from both crime scenes were fired from the same weapon.
Deputy Coleman served with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for 20 years. He is survived by his wife and four children.