Suspect in 4 of 11 Phoenix freeway shootings charged

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Formal charges filed against man suspected in 4 of 11 Phoenix freeway shooting cases.

PHOENIX (AP) — Prosecutors announced formal charges Wednesday against a 21-year-old man suspected in some of the freeway shootings that have rattled the Phoenix area. The man suspected of a series of highway shootings in Arizona, who has insisted on his innocence for days, has been officially charged with 16 felonies stemming from that recent reign of terror. Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., 21, is charged with aggravated assault, drive-by shooting, unlawful discharge of a firearm, disorderly conduct and endangerment, prosecutors announced Wednesday. But prosecutors did not file terrorism charges that police originally sought against the landscaper arrested Friday night at a suburban Phoenix Wal-Mart. Using ballistics tests, detectives tied Merritt to four of the 11 shootings reported on Phoenix-area freeways, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said.

When Merritt was arrested and arraigned over the weekend, he told a judge he is “the wrong guy” and did not even have a gun because he pawned it before the shootings started. Only one person was injured in the shootings: On Aug. 29, a bullet pierced the windshield of an SUV on Interstate 10, and the broken glass slightly cut a 13-year-old passenger.

But the owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop in Phoenix said Wednesday that he had turned over logs and surveillance video that showed Merritt pawned the gun Aug. 30. Investigators say eight cars were hit with bullets and three were struck with projectiles such as BBs or pellets, most while driving along I-10 in metropolitan Phoenix.

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