Man pleads not guilty in freeway shootings

Man pleads not guilty in freeway shootings

PHOENIX (AP) – The latest on a series of freeway shootings in the Phoenix area (all times local): 9:08 a.m.

A man charged in some of the freeway shootings that rattled the Phoenix area has pleaded not guilty.

A judge entered the plea for Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. during a brief arraignment Thursday. The 21-year-old Glendale man has been charged with aggravated assault, carrying out a drive-by shooting and other crimes.

Merritt didn’t say anything at the hearing other than to give his name and date of birth.

Investigators say ballistics tests link him to four of 11 shootings that occurred on Phoenix-area freeways between Aug. 22 and Sept. 10. Merritt was arrested Sept. 18 at a Wal-Mart.

The investigation into the other shootings remains open. State police say copycats may be responsible.

Authorities say eight cars were struck with bullets and three with projectiles such as BBs or pellets.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.

About The Author

Eduardo Santiago joined the FOX 9 and ABC 5 news team in February, 2012. That’s the same year KECY launched its very first local newscast. He has been covering local news in Yuma and the Imperial Valley since his start as a KYMA photojournalist in 2006. During his decade in broadcasting, Eduardo has covered some of the biggest stories in the Desert Southwest – from President Bush’s visit to Yuma, Ariz. to the uncovering of drug tunnels that span the US-Mexico border. One of the most memorable stories Eduardo covered was the 2010 Easter Earthquake that rocked the Imperial Valley, Mexicali, and Yuma. Eduardo, along with his news team, won an award from the Associated Press for best coverage of an ongoing story following the quake. Before he made his move to TV, Eduardo was just a kid born in East Los Angeles, where he spent his early childhood. His parents moved him to Mexicali, B.C. Mexico, where he did most of his elementary school education. He finally landed in El Centro, where he graduated from Central Union High School in 2005. Eduardo is currently a student at Imperial Valley College. You can find Eduardo hanging out in the Imperial Valley and Yuma with his family on any given weekend. His off-screen passion is playing guitar and sports.

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