Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. Arrested in Connection with Phoenix Freeway Shootings (VIDEO) (Update: Suspect Says, ‘I’m the wrong guy’)
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweets: ‘We got him!’…
21 year old Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. has been arrested in connection with the recent rash of Phoenix, Arizona highway shootings. Merritt has been named a suspect in at least four of the shootings. The authorities believe that other shootings may be that of copycats. Gov. Doug Ducey first broke the news about the arrest in a tweet just before 7 p.m Friday night., after SWAT team members closed in on the suspect at a Walmart near 59th and Northern avenues. Merritt has not been formally charged but is expected to face a range of charges, such as unlawful discharge of a firearm and aggravated assault, Graves said. Merritt is reported to have a previous had a criminal record. Merritt will be arraigned on Saturday.
With Friday’s arrest of Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., 21, law-enforcement officials said they had a suspect in at least four of the shootings in custody — news that brought relief but not necessarily closure.
Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said Merritt had been linked to at least four of 11 shootings incidents through a gun he owned.
“The weapon and man we believe was responsible for starting this spree is in custody,” Milstead said late Friday at a hastily called news conference.
Milstead spoke only for a few minutes and would not divulge other details, such as a possible motive.
“Are there others out there? Are there copycats? That is possible,” Milstead said.
Leslie Allen Merritt Jr.
Ballistics tests linked a weapon owned by the suspect to the first four of the 11 freeway shootings, on Aug. 29 and 31, Milstead said. Investigators had tracked down the weapon at a pawn shop in Phoenix.
Merritt’s Facebook page contains several links to stories about the freeway shootings, as well as several images supporting gun rights and video of him shooting a 9mm handgun.
Before the arrest, Milstead and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery had labeled the shooter as a domestic terrorist.
Police arrest suspect in string of Phoenix freeway shootings
A landscaper arrested in a series of Phoenix freeway shootings told a judge that authorities have “the wrong guy” as investigators stood by their detective work that traced the gun to the suspect after he took it to a pawn shop.
Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was charged Saturday with counts including aggravated assault, criminal damage, disorderly conduct, carrying out a drive-by shooting and intentional acts of terrorism.
“All I have to say is I’m the wrong guy. I tried telling the detectives that. My gun’s been in the pawn shop the last two months. I haven’t even had access to a weapon,” he said as he stood handcuffed in a black and white striped jail uniform.
But a charging document released late Saturday night by Maricopa Superior Court said that investigators determined Merritt had not pawned his gun at the time of the incidents.