‘We got him!’ Suspect arrested in I-10 shootings in Phoenix, governor says

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PHOENIX -- A SWAT team on Friday arrested a suspect in the shootings along a busy stretch of Interstate 10 in downtown Phoenix, authorities said.

"We got him! DPS SWAT team is in custody of the individual suspected of I-10 shootings. Apprehended moments ago," Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted Friday night.

A spokesman for Ducey said a man was taken into custody around 7 p.m. Friday at a Wal-Mart in Glendale, a suburb west of Phoenix.

A 21-year-old man identified as Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. was arrested in connection with four of the shootings on Aug. 29 and Aug. 31, DPS 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 copycats? We can't say."

The investigation is ongoing.

FOX 10 News in Phoenix said a source told the station that the suspect had anti-police and anti-government views, was vocal about his views on social media, and the weapon used was a handgun.

According to FOX 10, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio tweeted that DPS located a 9mm handgun that was recently pawned that matched the freeway shootings. The owner and person who pawned it was the same person who is in custody.

The rash of shootings in downtown spawned copycats along roadways elsewhere in Phoenix -- presumably by someone trying to emulate the I-10 incidents, authorities said.

Last week, Arizona State Troopers spokesman Tim Case confirmed at least 11 shootings in and around I-10 in less than two weeks, and "numerous reports" of damaged cars.

The first I-10 shootings were reported on August 29, when bullets hit an SUV, an empty commercial tour bus and a passenger car. More shootings followed in subsequent days.

None of the shootings have been fatal. Only one related injury was reported: A girl, 13, whose right ear was cut last month when a bullet pierced the windshield of the SUV she was in.

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