Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., a 21-year-old landscape gardener from the Phoenix area, was also charged with unlawful discharge of a firearm, disorderly conduct and endangerment in connection with the first four of the shootings along a 10-mile (16-km) stretch of Interstate 10 where it passes through the city.
Merritt has been charged with aggravated assault, criminal damage and intentional acts of terrorism. He maintained that his son had purchased two guns and then pawned them for household needs.
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. He has said repeatedly that he was not involved in the freeway shootings. He was arrested Friday evening after a SWAT team swarmed him at a Wal-Mart in the suburb of Glendale.
HANDOUT/REUTERS Leslie Merritt said he was “the wrong guy” and had pawned his gun before the shootings started, which investigators said is a lie.
So confident in the police work, Governor Doug Ducey tweeted “We got him!”
Using the results from various ballistics tests, authorities were able to link Merritt to four of the 11 shootings.
Who is Phoenix freeway shooting suspect? “It’s got to be some sort of mistake, or someone wanted the reward”.
He had previously pawned and retrieved his gun twice since July, pawn shop owner Eric Baker said.
Eleven vehicles in all were hit by bullets or other projectiles, such as BBs or pellets, while driving along Phoenix freeways between August . 29 and September 10.
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.
A 13-year-old girl was injured by broken glass after one shooting, but no other injuries and no fatalities were reported.
⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.