PHOENIX, Sept. 23 (UPI) — Prosecutors on Tuesday charged the suspect in the Arizona freeway shootings with 16 felonies, including aggravated assault and drive-by shooting, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.
Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., a 21-year-old landscape gardener from Phoenix, was charged with five counts of aggravated assault, four counts of drive-by shooting, three counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm, three counts of disorderly conduct and one count of endangerment.
Prosecutors had to officially charge Merritt by Tuesday or release him. Investigators met with Maricopa County prosecutors before charging Merritt with the first four incidents of the shooting spree in late August, when a Cadillac Escalade, a bus, a Kia Sorrento and a BMW were struck along an area of I-10 through Phoenix. A 13-year-old girl was cut by shattered glass but no one was seriously hurt.
Merritt is currently not charged with any other incidents of the spree, which have since been attributed to copycats or even a road rage episode.
Investigators were able to make the arrest when ballistics tests matched Merritt’s Hi-Point 9mm handgun to bullet fragments from the vehicles.
Merritt told a court commissioner he pawned his gun two months ago, however court documents stated the weapon had actually been pawned after the first four shootings.
Merritt told a court commissioner at his first appearance, “All I’ve got to say is you’ve got the wrong guy.”