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Former I-10 shooting suspect Leslie Allen Merritt charged with violating court order

(Michael Schennum/The Arizona Republic via AP,File)

PHOENIX — Leslie Allen Merritt, Jr., the former suspect in the Interstate 10 shootings, was arrested Wednesday after allegedly violating a protective order and making threats.

Glendale Police Sgt. Scott Waite said Merritt allegedly went to a property near 67th and Maryland avenues about 8:30 p.m. and made threats.

“It was listed as a protected property on the order of protection,” Waite said. “He also violated it by making contact with the victim and making threats toward the victim.”

Waite said Merritt was found in an apartment complex near 67th Avenue and Bethany Home Road a short time later by police and was arrested.

“He was fully cooperative and didn’t cause any problems,” Waite said.

Merritt was charged with violating an order of protection and threatening, both of which are Class 1 misdemeanors. He made his initial court appearance on Thursday.

All charges against Merritt stemming from the I-10 shootings were dropped in late April without prejudice. Attorney Ulises Farragut said law enforcement failed to conduct a thorough investigation, which resulted in Merritt being blamed for four of the shootings.

“If they would have done that (a thorough investigation), Leslie Merritt would have never been arrested,” he said.

Merritt’s other attorney, Jason Lamm, alleged the state had to change the timeline of the shootings to fit its narrative in court.

Lamm used cell phone records to show Merritt was at home on Aug. 29, the time of the second shooting of which he was accused. He also said Merritt’s gun was in the pawn shop at the time of the Aug. 30 shooting, the fourth Merritt was accused of.

The attorneys said Merritt denied he was the I-10 shooter as many as 72 times while being interviewed by law enforcement and Merritt was not allowed to take a polygraph test, despite requesting one.

However, Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said he believes Merritt is the shooter. He told the media that cases are dismissed without prejudice all the time.

“In law enforcement words, it’s just a request for more information,” he said.

Charges could be brought again in the I-10 case. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery has said the case against Merritt will continue.

KTAR’s Ashley Flood, Jeremy Foster and Mike Sackley contributed to this report.

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