The Arizona Department of Public Safety has arrested a man who they believe to be responsible for the I-10 freeway shooting spree, but many have raised questions about whether they are really safe in their vehicles.
21-year-old landscaper Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested Friday evening at a Walmart in Glendale. Police were able to confirm that the shell casings and bullet fragments from four of the shootings came from a gun that Merritt had pawned.
Merritt has repeatedly asserted that Arizona authorities have the wrong man. He says that the gun in question was in the pawn shop at the time of the shootings, but police claim that they have a charging document that says otherwise.
Reports of shots fired on I-10 have continued to pour in spite of the fact that Merritt is in custody. Some suspect that copycats are still shooting at vehicles, while others have speculated that Arizona authorities arrested the wrong person.
Criminal Defense Attorney Burges McCowan admitted that there may be some merit to Merritt’s claim of innocence, stating: “I suppose it’s always possible the state jumped the gun and didn’t thoroughly look through his timeline before going after him.”
Eleven vehicles, including two 18 wheelers, were hit by bullets during the shooting spree, but Merritt is only charged with shooting four of them.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety says it is still trying to account for the other 7 highway shootings. The $50,000 reward for information on the shooter is still available.
Merrit’s father told the press that he believes that Arizona authorities were so desperate to find a scapegoat that they pinned the crime on his son without sufficient investigation.
Merrit is facing charges of aggravated assault, criminal damage, disorderly conduct, carrying out a drive-by shooting and intentional acts of terrorism. His bail is set at $1 million.