Suspect in 4 of 11 Phoenix freeway shootings is indicted

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Alleged Arizona freeway shooter charged with 16 felonies.

PHOENIX (AP) — A grand jury on Friday indicted a man suspected in some of the freeway shootings that have rattled the Phoenix area since late last month. Drivers under fire on Valley freeways called police for help and now the Arizona Department of Public Safety has released those 911 and tip-line calls.

She told police she got in an argument with Merritt Jr.’s then girlfriend and then told her brother he, “Needs to stop chasing girls and take care of his son instead.” Merritt Jr.’s other family members were there at the time and told police he then followed his sister into her room and punched her in the jaw, shoved her, destroyed furniture and then left the house.Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., a 21-year-old father of two, faces 16 felony counts including drive by shootings, aggravated assault and unlawful discharge of a firearm, according to ABC 15. Merritt Jr. comes clean to police admitting he got distracted while driving but told the officer “I got scared because I don’t have a license,” so he “tried to get away.” 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.

Investigators checked pawn shops for guns matching the caliber of shell casings at the shootings, police said, and when a gun pawned by Merritt was test-fired it was determined to be a match, authorities said. Other calls were made after the fact as drivers discovered holes in the sides of their vehicles a day or two later. “I have a bullet hole in the side of my truck,” Steve Owens told a 911 dispatcher.

He called DPS a day after his pickup was hit on Labor Day and became the sixth confirmed shooting. “But I think I’ve still got the bullet in the truck,” he continued. “I haven’t found it yet, but it didn’t exit it. Halverson says the fact Merritt pawned his gun is not consistent with a gunman who wants to cover his tracks and avoid getting caught, since most people are aware that pawn shops regularly turn their records over to police. In court documents, investigators contested Merritt’s statement made on September 19, and said his handgun had not been pawned while the shootings were taking place. Three possible shootings were reported on August 29, including one in which the windshield of a sport-utility vehicle shattered and a 13-year-old girl sustained a lacerated ear. The suspect, handcuffed in a black and white striped jail uniform, insisted at Saturday’s hearing that he is not responsible for any of the shootings.

Each time, he would have had to present identification and give a fingerprint, plus undergo an Federal Bureau of Investigation background check to retrieve the weapon. But the owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop in Phoenix said he had turned over logs and surveillance video to authorities that showed Merritt pawned the gun on Aug. 30.

Police spent Friday watching Merritt’s home, then trailed him to the Wal-Mart, where a SWAT team moved in. “We’re not going to get in a debate about that”. The husband of an American businesswoman arrested in China on claims she spied and stole state secrets says she’s being held in solitary confinement and is interrogated at least once a day.

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