Phoenix Freeway Shootings Suspect Leslie Merritt Linked To Gun By Ballistic Tests, Police Say

While the suspect in the Phoenix freeway shootings has claimed that authorities arrested “the wrong guy” when SWAT officer surrounded him in a Glendale, Arizona Walmart store Friday, police are calling B.S. on the 21-year-old’s claim.

They have ballistic evidence linking bullets fired at passing vehicles — including a tour bus — on the heavily trafficked Interstate 10 freeway on August 29 and 30, the Arizona Department of Public Safety said through spokesperson Bart Graves.

The four shootings on those dates are the only shootings for which Merritt faces charges. In all, 11 freeway shootings were reported in the Phoenix area over the past three weeks — three weeks of terror for drivers in the region who have no choice but to take the Interstate.

Merritt owns a 9mm handgun that police say was used in four shootings, and that is the gun that matched bullet fragments from the terrifying incidents, Graves said, according to an Associated Press report Sunday.

The Bureau pf Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives assisted Arizona officers in the freeway shootings investigation. Special Agent Tom Mangan of the BATFE told Fox News that he has “no doubt” that Merritt’s gun was the weapon used in the potentially deadly shootings.

Fortunately, none of the 11 shooting incidents caused any serious injuries to motorists if passengers.

Merritt protested his innocence when he appeared in court on Saturday.

“All I have to say is I’m the wrong guy. I tried telling the detectives that. My gun’s been in the pawn shop the last two months. I haven’t even had access to a weapon,” Merritt said in the court hearing, adding that he would not be able to post the $1 million bail set by a judge because he has two kids.

Merritt said that he told detectives that his 9mm gun was in a pawn shop during the time of the four shootings, but police say that Merritt is lying and that he was in possession of the gun during that period.

Merritt now faces a staggering 28 felony charges in connection with the four shooting incidents, including committing acts of terrorism, committing a drive-by shooting, and aggravated assault with a weapon.

But even though police seem certain that despite his protests, Merritt is indeed their shooter, they aren’t taking any chances. Seven more shooting incidents remain officially unsolved and Arizona authorities are still offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to any further arrests, and they hope, convictions in connection with the Phoenix Freeway shootings.

[Image: Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office]