- An investigation is under way after a single M-156 rocket was launched unintentionally during a routine training mission Thursday morning
- According to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, an A-10C Thunderbolt II assigned to the 354th Fighter Squadron from the 355th Wing reportedly launched a rocket
- Rocket landed in the desert in an uninhabited area 60 miles northeast of Tucson
- Authorities say no injuries, damages or fires were reported in connection with the incident at this time
A wildfire in northern Arizona has charred more than 1,000 acres, as hundreds of firefighters vowed Tuesday to save homes and utility lines that could be in the blaze’s path.
The so-called Museum Fire, just north of Flagstaff in the Coconino National Forest, hasn’t been dented yet, despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters from multiple local, state and federal agencies.
“We have close to 600 personnel on the fire right now as we speak, we have zero containment at this point,” the incident commander, Rich Nieto, told reporters Tuesday morning. “I expect as we go further with this, that’ll go up. For right now, that’s what we’re looking at.”
The gun that police allege was used by a suspect to fire at four vehicles on an Arizona freeway in August was not pawned at the time of the shootings, police said in a report.
Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., 21, was arrested Friday and charged in the first four ofa string of 11 shootings that occurred over two weeks and left Phoenix area drivers on edge.
Merritt said in court Saturday that police have “the wrong guy,” and that his gun had been in a pawn shop for the past two months. “I haven’t even had access to a weapon,” he said.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety said in the report that they test fired a gun that Merritt allegedly pawned, and “the test fired bullets were matched to bullets and bullet fragments from the four cases.”
RELATED: Arizona Freeway Shooting Suspect Denies Being Gunman
Police said in the report that “at the time of the shootings in question the firearm was not in pawn status.” Police also said that Merritt’s social media pages referenced the “I-10 shooter” case.
Merritt’s father, Leslie Allen Merritt Sr., said Saturday night that he believes his son is innocent and urged the public not to rush to judgment.
He said his son is a gun enthusiast and responsible gun owner, and that many people across Arizona — and especially in the Phoenix area — shared posts about the two-week shooting spree online.
“We have no doubt to his innocence,” Merritt Sr. said. “We hope whoever has done this — regardless of who it is — eventually is caught and faces justice for it. We feel for all the people that were subjected to this violence.”
“I would just ask that everybody let this play out in court,” Merritt Sr. said.
Merritt Jr. was charged in the first four shootings, which involved bullets. Three vehicles were shot on I-10 on Aug. 29 and a car was struck by a bullet on Aug. 30. A 13-year-old girl was injured by flying glass in one of those incidents, but refused treatment.
Merritt Jr. was charged with four counts each of drive-by shooting, intentional acts of terrorism, discharging a firearm within city limits, aggravated assault, endangerment, criminal damage and disorderly conduct involving a weapon. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Police last week detained a local 19-year-old man who they referred to as a “person of interest” in the shootings, but a judge ordered him released Friday and no charges were filed. He was never called a suspect.