Charges filed against accused Phoenix freeway shooter

Sep 23, 2015, 9:38 AM

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., makes his initial appearance before a judge at the Maricopa County Sherif...

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., makes his initial appearance before a judge at the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office on Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, in Phoenix. The landscaper is the suspect in a series of Phoenix freeway shootings and was arrested Friday after trying to sell a gun at a pawn shop. (Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

(Rob Schumacher/The Arizona Republic via AP, Pool)

PHOENIX — Charges were formally filed Wednesday against an accused Phoenix freeway shooter on the same day the Department of Public Safety said the first shooting actually happened days before it was reported.

Little else has changed in the case against Leslie Merritt Jr., who has been charged in four of the 11 confirmed shootings mostly on Interstate 10.

He faces 16 felony counts, among them: three counts of drive-by shooting, six counts of aggravated assault and three counts of discharge of a firearm.

Merritt was arrested Sept. 18 after a weapon used in the shootings was forensically linked to him. He has denied involvement in the shootings that began, authorities now say, Aug. 27 instead of Aug. 29.

Agency spokesman Bart Graves said the discrepancy was caused when the driver admitted uncertainty as to when the car had been hit because it had been parked at the airport Aug. 27 and the bullet hole wasn’t noticed until Aug. 29.

On that morning, an SUV going east on I-10 near 19th Avenue was hit a bullet around 11 a.m.

Merritt, a landscaper, remained in jail with bail set at $1 million.

Authorities were still investigating the shootings. Only one person has been injured, a girl who was cut by shattered glass while she was riding in her family’s car.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Charges filed against accused Phoenix freeway shooter