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Archive for Sunday, February 15, 2004

Saturday shooting linked to Ohio sniper

Area on heightened alert for shooter, vehicle

February 15, 2004

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— A man standing on a highway overpass fired a handgun at a sport utility vehicle Saturday on Interstate 70, and investigators said it appeared to be linked to the monthslong series of highway shootings in the Columbus area.

No one was injured in the late morning shooting near Pataskala, about 15 miles east of Columbus.

The bullet struck the SUV's right front fender and lodged in the battery. It was recovered and sent for lab testing.

The shooting appeared to be related to the 23 others since May, said Franklin County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Martin, a spokesman for the task force investigating the shootings. One person has been killed.

"This is pretty consistent with what our shooter has done in the past," he said. "Our particular shooter is becoming much more aggressive, much bolder."

The SUV driver and four other witnesses described the shooter as a clean-shaven white male in his 30s with dark hair, wearing a hat and sunglasses driving a small black sedan, Martin said. The shooter's demeanor appeared "casual," he said.

The car was similar to a Chevy Metro, said Pat Snelling, a State Highway Patrol dispatcher.

The SUV driver said he saw the shooter on the overpass.

"You need to hurry because that guy was just on the bridge," he told a 911 operator.

The description matched the one given by witnesses who were shot at last Sunday on Interstate 71 southwest of Columbus.

"We had aircraft in the area within moments," patrol spokesman Sgt. Richard Zwayer said. "This guy was able to blend into traffic and slip away."

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