Questions and answers about the Phoenix freeway shootingsPosted: Updated:
Police made an arrest in the Phoenix freeway shootings that had drivers on alert and avoiding Interstate 10 for weeks. Eleven vehicles in all were hit by bullets or other projectiles, such as BBs or pellets, while driving along Phoenix freeways between Aug. 29 and Sept. 10. There have been no serious injuries, although a 13-year-old girl's ear was cut by glass when a bullet shattered a car window. The shootings prompted several school districts to keep their buses off freeways while some commuters chose alternate routes.
Here are answers to key questions about the case:
Who is in custody?
Leslie Allen Merritt Jr, a landscaper, was arrested Friday night at a Wal-Mart and accused of being the shooter in the first four incidents. Merritt, 21, says police have the wrong person. Officials say evidence links Merritt to the crimes and they are confident in the arrest. Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted shortly after Merritt was taken into custody: "We got him!"
The Glendale resident faces several charges, including aggravated assault, criminal damage, disorderly conduct, carrying out a drive-by shooting and intentional acts of terrorism.
What evidence links him to the crime?
Evidence from shell casings and bullet fragments determined that a gun Merritt pawned was used in four of the shootings on Aug. 29 and 30, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Weapons from various local pawn shops were test-fired at the state lab, spokesman Bart Graves said.
Merritt said during a court appearance this weekend that his gun was in the pawn shop the last two months and he didn't even have access to the weapon during the shootings, but police dispute that.
Officials have not released a motive in the shootings.
Are there other suspects?
Investigators haven't ruled out the possibility of other shooters or copycats. Messages seeking tips about the shootings will remain posted on electronic signs along freeways, and a $50,000 reward is still available.
Who else has been arrested?
Police arrested a 19-year-old Avondale man and questioned him regarding the shootings but later said he was not a suspect.
Maricopa County Sheriff's deputies also arrested three teenagers for allegedly shooting at cars with a slingshot, but the incidents were not related to the freeway shootings. The three 18-year-olds were in jail after admitting they flung rocks at pedestrians and vehicles, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said.
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