Glendale police: Leslie Merritt, Jr. arrested for violating order of protection

GLENDALE, AZ -
The former suspect in a series of Phoenix freeway shootings last year has been arrested in Glendale for allegedly violating a protection order, police said Thursday.
   
Leslie Merritt Jr. was taken into custody Wednesday night for being on the unnamed victim's property and allegedly making threatening statements, said Sgt. Scott Waite, a spokesman for Glendale police.
   
Other details of the protection order were not immediately disclosed by police, who said Merritt was jailed on two misdemeanors.
   
At the time of his September 2015 arrest in the freeway shootings case, Merritt had a fiance and two children.
   
Calls to Merritt's attorneys for comment on his latest arrest weren't immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
   
Merritt had been the only named suspect in four of 11 shootings that caused panic on Phoenix-area freeways in August and September of 2015.
   
No one was seriously injured when eight cars were hit with bullets and three others were struck with projectiles such as BBs or pellets. The only injury occurred when the ear of a 13-year-old girl was cut by glass.
   
No one else has been arrested in the case and an investigation remains open.
   
Merritt, who insisted he was innocent, spent seven months in jail before his release in April.
   
Charges against Merritt were dismissed at the request of prosecutors after another ballistics expert found the Arizona Department of Public Safety's crime lab had come to a faulty conclusion and noted the bullets from the four shootings couldn't be "excluded or identified" as having come from Merritt's gun.
   
Lawyers for the 22-year-old landscaper filed a lawsuit last month, claiming Arizona authorities rushed to judgment and failed to provide evidence that he was present at any of the shootings.
   
The lawsuit alleges false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and aiding and abetting tortious conduct.
   
Merritt's lawsuit did not specify the amount of money he is seeking. His attorneys previously said he was seeking $10 million from the state, Maricopa County and the office of County Attorney Bill Montgomery.

Merritt, Jr. was released in April after all charges against him were dismissed in connection with several of the freeway shootings. 

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