Accused Phoenix freeway shooter says police have "wrong guy"

The father of the accused said anyone who thinks his son is guilty is a "moron."
By Brooks Hays   |   Sept. 19, 2015 at 7:56 PM

PHOENIX, Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., the man believed to be responsible for a series of drive-by shootings on Arizona's Interstate 10, told a judge on Saturday that authorities arrested "the wrong guy."

Judge Lisa Roberts was unmoved, setting the 21-year-old's bail at $1 million.

"The suspect presents a dramatic and profound threat to the community," the prosecutor said at Merritt's arraignment, according to the Los Angeles Times.

"All I have to say is I'm the wrong guy," Merritt said, after the judge granted him permission to address the court. "I tried telling the detectives that. My gun's been in the pawnshop the last two months. I haven't even had access to a weapon."

A SWAT team swarmed Merritt in a Walmart on Friday. Authorities announced his arrest shortly afterwards, saying the young man was "forensically linked" to the 11 highway shootings along busy I-10.

No one has been seriously hurt, but one girl's face was cut by a piece of glass that shattered when it was struck by a bullet.

"The weapon and man we believe was responsible for starting this spree is in custody," Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead said. "Are there others out there? Are there copycats? That is possible."

Authorities say they found Merritt's gun, which was linked to the shootings, at a local pawn shop. But Merritt insists his gun hasn't been in his possession during the shooting spree.

The father of the accused told reporters that anyone who thinks his son is guilty is a "moron."

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