Suspect in 4 of 11 Phoenix Freeway Shootings Charged

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Arizona highway shootings suspect charged with 16 felonies.

PHOENIX — The suspect in Arizona’s spate of recent highway shootings was formally charged on Wednesday with 16 felonies including drive-by shooting and aggravated assault, prosecutors said.

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., a 21-year-old landscape gardener from the Phoenix area, was also charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, disorderly conduct and endangerment in connection with the first four of the shootings along a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 10 where it passes through the city. Despite the head of the state police describing the shootings as “domestic terrorism,” there was no mention of that in the complaint filed by county prosecutors. 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 suffered a minor injury, but many motorists were unsettled by the incidents, and some said they had been avoiding Interstate 10 if possible. Three possible shootings were reported on Aug. 29, including one in which the windshield of a sport utility vehicle shattered and a 13-year-old girl sustained a cut ear.

In court documents, investigators contested Merritt’s statement made on Sept. 19, and said his handgun had not been pawned while the shootings were taking place. Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said bullets from the handgun discovered at the store were then matched to fragments found at some of the shooting scenes.

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