Arizona Highway Shooting Suspect Pleads Not Guilty

Arizona Highway Shooting Suspect
Leslie Allen Merritt pleaded not guilty in a Phoenix court to felony charges relating to shots fired at vehicles on Arizona's Interstate 10 highway. Photo by Tim Roberts Photography/Shutterstock

PHOENIX, Oct. 1 (UPI) — Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., 21, pleaded not guilty in court to charges relating to shootings at unsuspecting drivers along a Phoenix highway.

Prosecutors said Merritt was involved in four incidents in which vehicles on Interstate 10 in Arizona were targeted. Police said three shootings occurred on Aug. 29, and a fourth the following day.

There were no fatalities, though vehicles were struck by bullets and a girl, 13 was injured by flying glass.

In the days following the shootings, seven more incidents took place. Authorities believe they were the work of others engaged in “copycat crimes.”

Merritt was arraigned in Maricopa County, Ariz., Superior Court on Thursday on 15 felony charges, including drive-by shooting, intentional acts of terrorism and disorderly conduct involving a weapon.

He was arrested Sept. 18 after ballistics tests linked his weapon to the four shootings. In a previous court appearance Merritt claimed his weapon was in the possession of a pawn shop when the incidents occurred. Evidenced showed the gun was held at the shop before and after the shootings.

Merritt remains jailed on $1 million bail. No highway shootings have been reported since Sept. 10.


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