Freeway shooting suspect has criminal past

Posted at 6:49 PM, Sep 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-19 21:49:26-04

The man identified as a suspect in the freeway shooting investigation has had prior criminal charges and family trouble, court records show.

The Department of Public Safety arrested 21-year-old Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. Friday night. Officials said he is connected to the first four freeway shootings and has been linked to the crimes by forensic evidence.

SPECIAL SECTION: Latest on the investigation into the freeway shooting

The ABC15 Investigators discovered the arrest is not his first run-in with law enforcement.

Merritt has been charged twice before in Phoenix Municipal Court, records show. Both cases were in 2013.

In one case, Merritt pleaded guilty after failing to stop at a scene involving a damaged vehicle, records show.

In another case, Merritt was charged with assault and criminal damage. However, those charges were eventually dismissed.

The specific details in both cases were not immediately available Friday night.  ABC15 has requested information on both cases from Phoenix Police.

Court records also show three different cases in Maricopa County Family Court.

In 2012, Merritt filed for an order of protection. The name of the person the order was filed against was redacted from an online court docket.

In 2013, two additional cases appear to involve issues involving Merritt’s child or children.

ABC15 also discovered numerous social media posts made by Merritt regarding the freeway shooting investigation. His Facebook page had many post referencing guns, violence, and a distrust of government.

Contact ABC15 Investigator Dave Biscobing at