Phoenix I-10 shootings suspect charged with 16 counts

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. makes his initial appearance before a Maricopa County judge on September 19.

Story highlights

  • Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. charged with drive by shooting, 5 counts of aggravated assault and other charges
  • The 21-year-old was arrested September 18 and is in custody on $1 million bond

(CNN)A suspect in Phoenix's recent highway shootings was charged with 16 felony counts, including 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, the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested on September 18 and remains in custody on a $1 million bond.
    At his bond hearing Saturday, the 21-year-old told the judge, "All I have to say is I'm the wrong guy."
    "I tried to tell the detectives that," he said. "My gun's been in the pawn shop for the last two months. I haven't even had access to a weapon."
    Police have said the suspect was "forensically linked" to the first four shootings along Interstate 10 in downtown Phoenix.
    Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves told reporters then that officials were not "going to get into a debate" with Merritt.
    On Wednesday, County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a news release, "I understand the frustration by some with respect to the limited amount of information released by the Department of Public Safety to date. However, I am equally grateful for the caution necessary to safeguard any prosecution of the Defendant and the need to protect Due Process rights."
    Merritt, who remains in custody, is scheduled to appear at a preliminary hearing on September 25.
    There were no fatalities linked to any of the 11 incidents, which happened in and around I-10 between August 29 and September 10.