Freeway shootings started earlier than believed

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested on September 18 and remains in custody on a $1 million bond.

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Little else has changed in the case against Leslie Merritt Jr., who has been charged in four of the 11 confirmed shootings mostly on Interstate 10. There have been no serious injuries, although a 13-year-old girl’s ear was cut by glass when a bullet shattered a auto window.

Merritt was charged with 16 felony counts: four counts of drive-by shooting, five counts of aggravated assault, three counts of unlawful discharge of a firearm, three counts of disorderly conduct and one count of endangerment, according to YourWestValley.

Maricopa County’s top prosecutor, Bill Montgomery, previously said Arizona’s terrorism laws enacted after 9/11 focus mostly on protecting public utilities from attack and would not apply to the freeway shootings.

Merritt is scheduled for a court status conference Friday, but that hearing could be canceled if prosecutors seek a formal indictment.

Merritt, who works as a landscaper, made his first appearance in court on Saturday and in a brief statement, he told the judge that authorities had the wrong guy. He maintained that his son had purchased two guns and then pawned them for household needs. Officials say evidence links Merritt to the crimes and they are confident in the arrest.

That didn’t stop Republican Gov. Doug Ducey from exclaiming on Twitter that “We got him!” shortly after police arrested Merritt outside of a Wal-Mart.

“And the final time it was brought here was August . 30 around 5:30 p.m. after the freeway shootings occurred that day”, Baker said.

Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said Wednesday that the shooting of a BMW is now believed to have occurred on Aug. 27, not Aug. 30.

Police linked Mr. Merritt to at least four of the shootings through a gun he owned and had tried to pawn.

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⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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