Dad of Suspected Freeway Shooter: 'Preposterous'

Leslie Merritt linked to at least 4 of the shootings, say police
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2015 12:15 PM CDT
This photo provided by Maricopa County Sheriff's Office shows Leslie Allen Merritt.   (Maricopa County Sheriff's Office via AP)
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(Newser) – The 21-year-old man arrested yesterday in connection with the string of shootings plaguing an Arizona freeway is suspected in at least four of them, the Arizona Republic reports. Police say a gun owned by Leslie Merritt Jr. was linked to the first four shootings that took place Aug. 29 and Aug. 30, according to CBS News. One Phoenix official tells CBS Merritt tried to pawn the firearm. The Republic reports police are uncertain whether Merritt is connected to any more of the 11 shootings or if there are additional suspects on the loose. “Are there others out there? Are there copycats? That is possible,” Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said at a news conference yesterday.

CBS reports Merritt, a father of two, is a gun enthusiast who posted pro-firearm and anti-government sentiments to his Facebook page. However, no possible motive for the shootings has been identified. Following Merritt's arrest yesterday at a Walmart outside Phoenix, his father told the Republic his son has "too much respect" for life and guns to have committed the shootings. “Whoever said my son is the freeway shooter is a moron,” he said. “It’s got to be some sort of mistake or someone wanted the reward. This is just preposterous.” Merritt is facing multiple charges, including criminal endangerment and assault, according to CBS. There was only one minor injury reported in the 11 shootings that took place over a two-week span largely along Interstate 10 in Phoenix. (Read more Arizona stories.)

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