Saturday, February 21, 2004

Gunman's notoriety grows with Columbus shootings

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COLUMBUS - Ohio's serial highway shooter, linked to two dozen incidents, remains at large despite what authorities said Friday are nearly 5,000 tips from citizens.

Investigators say they have "covered" 92 percent of those leads.

The shooter has eluded an expanding police dragnet for three months in the shootings that have been traced back to May - a long time for a case of this kind, scholars and law enforcement officials say.

Lt. Rick Fambro said he couldn't recall a similar shooting spree in his 14 years with the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

The longer the gunman remains at large, the more notoriety he is likely to gain, said Jeffrey Ian Ross, a University of Baltimore criminologist who gave frequent interviews during the 2002 shootings around the Washington beltway. In a three-week period then, 10 people were killed and three others critically injured.

In contrast, there has only been one fatality in the Ohio case. Ross called that a signature. "I know of no other sniper that has engaged in highway shootings for such a sustained period - nor somebody who has used a handgun in the commission of these kinds of crimes."

Some witnesses told police they saw the shooter wield a handgun.

Gail Knisley, 62, of Washington Court House, was killed Nov. 25 as she rode in a car along Interstate 270. The other 23 bullets have hit vehicles and buildings.

It's hard to say how many shootings the gunman may have committed, Franklin County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Martin told reporters Friday during a news briefing.

When caught, the shooter or shooters "may confess to the 24 that we currently have listed, or 124," Martin said. Martin is spokesman for a task force of local, state and federal authorities that has been working to catch the gunman since investigators linked Knisley's death to a string of nonfatal highway shootings before and after.

Nine of the shootings, including the most recent one, were matched with ballistic evidence; 15 others were linked with evidence that authorities won't disclose.

Thornsley thinks the shooter will be caught because he's driven to continue taking chances.

"That's what makes it fun for him: getting attention and taking even greater risks - and getting away with it," Thornsley said. "But he's going to make a mistake."

A $60,000 reward is offered. Anyone with information can call the task force's tip line: (614) 462-4646.


Pilarczyk: Article XII unjust
Diocese adds abuse claims
Builder, residents settle suit
PTOs court new members: dads
Dowlin, DeWine shoot it out
U.S. volunteers won't stop, despite dangers in Haiti

Amelia program accredited
Insurers billed for drivers who use city fire services
McConnell: Transit bill near
Bristol's club begins paying off its debt to Clear Channel
Clermont request: $5.5M for roads
Cops want to trap coyote, if permitted
Unpaid bill quiets Deerfield parks phones
Grand jury to consider fake-cop case
Kids get heads-up on helmet safety
Gunman's notoriety grows with Columbus shootings
News briefs
East Fork lodge may get past talk stage
Chamber may oust activist
Mayor: My photo isn't endorsement
Neighbors briefs
Police officer shot at, shoots suspect in foot
Local play sensitive to critics
Urban League seeks money for program
Man, 18, indicted in murder attempt, kidnap of woman
State denies neighbors' request for sound barrier
State rating an issue in levy ballot

Ask Dave: Where does Cleves-Warsaw come to end?
Crowley: Bunning opponent sees poll as reason to hope
Good Things Happening
Faith matters: Lecture series examines religious images of women

Janet Strawser, 96, helped run business
Frederick Wagner liked a challenge

Science lessons on wheels
Speaker: Tax reform possible
House plan alive
Ky. House approves malpractice measure
McConnell predicts more gains for GOP
Two men sought following robbery at Fuddruckers
Family sues utility, contractor over fire after power failure