The tattoos that once adorned Ryan Giroux's face signify ties to racist hate groups, though law enforcement officials in Arizona don't believe the shooting rampage the 41-year-old allegedly went on was racially motivated.
Giroux, who police say killed one person and wounded five others, made a brief appearance in a Maricopa County, Ariz., court Thursday morning to face several charges including first-degree murder to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in the shootings that sent a chill through the Phoenix area on Wednesday. His bail has been set at $2 million.
The "88" that was tattooed on the left side of Giroux's face in an old, undated Arizona Department of Corrections booking photo is neo-Nazi code for "Heil Hitler" because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC is an Alabama-based civil rights organization that tracks hate groups.
A tattoo on Giroux's chin from the old corrections photo is of "Thor's Hammer," a symbol for Odinism, which Potok said is a theology embraced by white supremacist groups.
In a new booking photo of Giroux released on Wednesday, both the "88" and the tattoos on his eyebrows and chin were no longer visible and seemed to have been removed.
"These were visible and clearly inciting tattoos," Potok said. "He was or still is definitely affiliated in some form or another."
On Wednesday, Mesa, Ariz., police spokesman Det. Steve Berry said investigators had "nothing to indicate [Wednesday's rampage] has anything to do with white supremacy at all."
Giroux's criminal record includes convictions for assault in Arizona and Los Angeles County, court records show. He has landed in state prison three times since 1994.
The shooting rampage began at a motel in Mesa, outside Phoenix, on Wednesday morning. One man was pronounced dead at the scene, and two women were wounded but are expected to survive.
After leaving the motel, Giroux is believed to have continued firing, wounding a student sitting at a restaurant on the campus of the East Valley Institute of Technology across the street from the motel. Seconds later, the gunman carjacked a gray Honda and fled the area and shot two other people at a nearby apartment building.
None of the victims have been identified.
Times staff writer James Queally contributed to this report.