A 21-year-old man under arrest in Arizona denied involvement during a Saturday court appearance in a string of shootings along a stretch of Phoenix highway. Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested Friday night, and is being held on $1 million bond in the shootings that began Aug. 29 and sparked fear in the area.
The landscaper has been charged with multiple counts, including aggravated assault and intentional acts of terrorism, the Associated Press reported. "All I have to say is I'm the wrong guy," Merritt told the court, according to the AP. "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."
Authorities have confirmed at least 11 shootings since the incidents started in late August, and officials say they have linked Merritt to four of them. The Arizona Department of Public Safety said the investigation is ongoing, and there is a $50,000 reward for information leading to arrests.
“Are there others out there? Are there copycats? That is possible,” Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said, the Arizona Republic reported.
A spokesman for the department said authorities traced bullets from four of the shootings to a gun Merritt pawned. A special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the AP the evidence leaves "no doubt" the gun used in the four shootings that took place Aug. 29-30 was the same one Merritt pawned.
There have been no deaths in the shooting incidents along the Interstate 10. A 13-year-old girl was injured by shattered glass from a car window.