Valley freeway shooting suspect charged, claims innocence

After weeks of terror on our roadways, troopers have arrested a suspect in the freeway shootings. Saturday morning, the suspect made his first appearance in front of a judge. But court paperwork is refuting the suspect's claims that he had no access
Five days after his arrest, suspected I-10 shooter Leslie Merritt Junior has been formally charged in the case.
Maricopa County Prosecutors charged Merritt Jr. with 16 felony counts.
Of those 16 counts, over a dozen are felonies, four counts are for drive-by shooting, and five counts are for aggravated assault. Those charges account for four vehicles that were shot, and the five people in those vehicles.
Although Col. Frank Milstead has been calling the shootings "domestic terrorism," no terrorism-related charges were filed.
It's been four days since Leslie Merritt Jr. appeared in front of a judge. Based on the evidence turned over by DPS, The MCAO formally charged him with 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.
Merritt Jr. spoke during his appearance, "all I have to say is that I'm the wrong guy. I tried telling the detectives that. My gun has been in the pawn shop for the last two months; I haven't even had access to a weapon."
But the owner of the Mo Money Pawn Shop that Merritt Jr. sold his gun to says otherwise.
"That's wrong, he actually picked the gun up and picked it up once and pawned it again, picked it up, pawned it again, and then pawned it for a third time before that gun was confiscated," said Eric Baker.
According to the store records, Baker says Merritt's HiPoint 9mm pistol was not at his pawn shop during the days and times the four shootings he's accused happened. 
"Was pawned the first time on July 19, picked up on July 24, pawned again August 1, then August 22, it was picked up and pawned again on August 30, about 5:30 p.m.," said Baker.
Prosecutors now say the first shooting happened on August 27. The car that was allegedly shot in that incident had been parked at the airport, so the bullet hole went unnoticed for a few days.
Three more freeway shootings took place on August 29; they're also being linked to Merritt's gun.
Merritt Jr. was arrested on September 18, and he remains in custody on a $1 million bond. He's due back in court on Friday.


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