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Phoenix freeway shootings

The Phoenix freeway shootings, also known as the I-10 shootings, were a series of eleven incidents that occurred between August 27 and September 10, 2015, along Interstate 10 and State Route 202 in Phoenix, Arizona. Each incident resulted in projectile damage to cars, and one girl was injured.

Phoenix freeway shootings
Looking over a highway towards an elevated interchange
The Mini Stack, near where numerous shootings occurred
Freeways surrounding Phoenix, showing the major arterial roads and expressways
A map of freeways in Phoenix, including other roads investigated in connection with the shootings
LocationInterstate 10, State Route 202, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.
Coordinates33°27′43.41″N 112°2′55.12″W / 33.4620583°N 112.0486444°W / 33.4620583; -112.0486444Coordinates: 33°27′43.41″N 112°2′55.12″W / 33.4620583°N 112.0486444°W / 33.4620583; -112.0486444
DateAugust 27, 2015 (2015-08-27) – September 10, 2015 (2015-09-10)
TargetVehicles along local freeways
Attack type

A suspect was arrested on September 18,[2] but charges against him were dropped in April 2016.[3]


Beginning on August 27, eleven shootings occurred: eight by bullets and three by unspecified projectiles.[4] Ten of the incidents occurred on Interstate 10, while the eleventh was on State Route 202.[5] The final shooting occurred on September 10.[6]

False leadsEdit

On September 11, a man and woman driving a car were taken into custody in relation to the shootings. The woman was later released, but the 19-year-old male suspect was kept in police custody, as sources stated that he boasted about the shootings to friends. He was later arrested on an unrelated marijuana charge.[7][4]

Road debris shattering windows also played a role in the investigation, as shattered windows were often investigated as being part of the spree. For example, on September 16 a driver reported his windows being shot by a car that he was seeking to pass, but police later stated that road debris caused the window damage.[8]

Three 18-year-olds with a slingshot were arrested on September 13 on claims that they had been making copycat attacks,[9] and the three admitted to targeting cars and pedestrians. They were later released.[10]


Leslie Allen Merritt, Jr., age 21,[11] was arrested in Glendale on September 18.[12] Police initially claimed that Merritt held anti-government and anti-police views.[1] One day after his arrest, police announced that they had linked the first four shootings to a pistol owned by Merritt.[13] He was charged with fifteen felony counts, including carrying out a drive-by shooting, aggravated assault, unlawfully discharging a firearm, disorderly conduct, and endangerment; prosecutors also considered filing terrorism charges, but ultimately did not, as terrorism-related laws focused primarily on protecting public utilities and did not encompass freeway shootings.[14][15] All charges were dropped in April 2016, and Merritt later filed a lawsuit against state officials.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "'We got him!' Suspect arrested in I-10 shootings in Phoenix, governor says". Fox. September 18, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  2. ^ "Ducey: Freeway shooting suspect in custody". ABC15. September 18, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  3. ^ "Judge dismisses charges against suspect in Phx I-10 shootings". Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  4. ^ a b Sayers, Justin (September 13, 2015). "Phoenix freeway shootings: What you need to know". Arizona Republic. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
  5. ^ "LIST: When and where the freeway shootings have occurred". ABC15. September 9, 2015. Retrieved September 10, 2015.
  6. ^ "New details about suspect in Phoenix freeway shootings". CBS News. September 19, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  7. ^ La Jeunesse, William (September 11, 2015). "Sources: Man taken into custody in Phoenix allegedly boasted to friends of rash of freeway shootings". Fox News. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
  8. ^ "DPS investigating shattered window on I-10". KNXV. September 16, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2015.
  9. ^ Billeaud, Jacques (September 13, 2015). "3 Arrested in Copycat Incidents of Phoenix Freeway Shootings". ABC News. Retrieved September 13, 2015.
  10. ^ "MCSO: Chase suspect was accused in 'copycat' freeway case". azcentral. Retrieved December 22, 2016.
  11. ^ "Governor: Suspect arrested in Phoenix freeway shootings". KOB 4. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  12. ^ Davenport, Paul (September 18, 2015). "Police Arrest Suspect in String of Phoenix Freeway Shootings". ABC.
  13. ^ "Phoenix freeway-shootings suspect Leslie Allen Merritt Jr. tied to first 4 incidents". AZCentral. September 19, 2015. Retrieved September 19, 2015.
  14. ^ Berry, Walter (September 25, 2015). "Suspect in 4 of 11 Phoenix freeway shootings is indicted". Yahoo! News. Retrieved September 27, 2015.
  15. ^ "Phoenix freeway shootings update: Charges filed against suspect, Leslie Allen Merritt". ABC15. September 23, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  16. ^ "Former freeway shooting suspect sues Arizona, county". USA TODAY. Retrieved December 22, 2016.