Tuesday, March 16, 2004

I-270 shooting suspect named

Police file warrant for his arrest

By Anita Chang
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - Authorities identified a suspect Monday in a series of 24 highway shootings that killed a passenger, shattered windshields, dented school buses and unnerved motorists around the city.

Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, is shown in this photo released by police Monday.
(AP Photo/Franklin County Sheriff's Dept.)
Investigators filed a warrant for the arrest of Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, of Columbus, on a charge of felonious assault. The warrant charges McCoy with firing two rounds from a 9 mm handgun into an occupied residence on Dec. 15. No one was injured in that shooting.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office said investigators did not know McCoy's whereabouts. Authorities said he was considered armed and dangerous.

"The key issue for us right now is to locate this guy," Chief Deputy Steve Martin said. "We believe he bought another gun."

The sniper shootings at vehicles and buildings around Interstate 270, the city's outerbelt, and other highways started in May, although most have been since October. The most recent shootings were farther from the city on other highways. The latest occurred Feb. 14.

Bullets struck homes, a school, school buses, vans, cars, delivery trucks and tractor-trailers. The only person struck was killed.

A friend was driving Gail Knisley, 62, of Washington Court House, to a doctor's appointment Nov. 25 when a bullet ripped through the door of the Pontiac Grand Am.

Two of the shootings occurred within an hour's drive of Cincinnati on Interstate 71 in Fayette County near Washington Court House. They took place Feb. 8 about three miles north of the popular Jeffersonville outlet stores.

A bullet fired from one overpass struck a Mercedes driven by Douglas Berry, 51, of Ontario, who was driving to a friend's wedding in Cincinnati. Another bullet fired from a second overpass around the same time struck a minivan driven by Cheryl Shreyer, 53, of Baltimore. Neither motorist was injured.

Lab tests showed that bullets from nine of the shootings were fired from the same gun.

Martin would not say what evidence led investigators to McCoy. He said the shootings task force did not know where McCoy was.

"I don't know if he's still local," he said. "We don't have any reason to believe he's not."

In the three most recent shootings, witnesses described seeing someone aiming at them while standing next to a car. The description and car are similar to what the sheriff's office released Monday: a 5-foot-8-inch, 185-pound white male with brown hair and green eyes.

McCoy drives a four-door, dark green 1999 Geo Metro with a black hood, the sheriff's office said. The Ohio license tag is CGV7387.

The address traced to the license plate is within a mile of the stretch of Interstate 270 where many of the shootings occurred last fall. On Monday night, knots of people stood talking in driveways and on lawns up and down the street of newer middle-class homes.

A light was on in the split-level house but the curtains were drawn. No one answered the door.

As people milled about, a woman removed a "for sale" sign that had been posted outside and drove away. Real estate agent Sheila Bell said the house had been on the market for six months.

At least three men removed three large plastic tubs from the house and placed them in unmarked cars. The contents weren't visible.

Several neighbors said they barely knew McCoy, whom they recognized from a photo released by investigators.

"We would just sort of wave occasionally," said Nicole Sewald, 28, who lives across the street. "My husband may have helped him carry in some lumber once."

Ryan Conley, 18, who lives next door, said McCoy used to yell at children playing to be quiet.

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