Suspect arrested in Arizona freeway shootings

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PHOENIX — Officials say a 21-year-old man has been arrested in connection with four shootings along Phoenix-area freeways that have kept drivers on edge for weeks.

Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested Friday in connection to the shootings on Aug. 29 and Aug. 31, Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Bart Graves said.

At a news conference, Arizona Department of Public Safety director Col. Frank Milstead said: “Over the last two weeks Arizonans have been terrified by shootings on Interstate 10 along with copycats. The weapon and the man we believe is responsible for these shootings in Arizona is in custody.”

“He is in custody because the weapon that he owned is forensically linked to these crimes,” Milstead said.

When asked if there could be other suspects, Milstead said: “Are there others out there Are there copycat? That is possible.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, the father of suspect was adamant that his son had nothing to do with the shootings and that anyone who says he was involved is a “moron.”

Leslie Merritt Sr. said he believes his son is being made a scapegoat by police who were desperate to make an arrest under immense public pressure.

“He has way too much value for human life to even take the slightest or remotest risk of actually injuring someone,” he said of his son.