Friday, April 2, 2004

Highway shooting suspect indicted

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins
The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The man arrested in the highway shootings that terrorized central Ohio drivers for months was charged Thursday with aggravated murder in the lone death, making him eligible for the death penalty.

A Franklin County grand jury also indicted Charles A. McCoy Jr. on numerous other charges including attempted murder, assault and vandalism in half of the 24 shootings. Identified as a suspect in mid-March, he had first been charged in just one of the 24 shootings.

The cases McCoy is charged in started with the Oct. 19 shooting at a tractor-trailer on Interstate 270 and ended with the Feb. 14 gunshots at a sport-utility vehicle on another freeway.

The charges include the Nov. 11 shooting into an elementary school, the Dec. 15 shooting into a house on the south side of Columbus and two separate shootings within minutes of each other Feb. 8 from an Interstate 71 overpass near Jeffersonville.

The sporadic gunfire began in May around a southern stretch of I-270, the city's outer belt, then intensified in the fall and eventually spread to two other highways. Bullets struck vehicles, homes, a school and school buses.

The indictment in Common Pleas Court also lists eight counts of attempted murder, nine counts of felonious assault, two counts of vandalism, two counts of discharging a firearm at or into a house and discharging a firearm into a school safety zone.

The passenger in one car, Gail Knisley, 62, of Washington Court House, was being driven by a friend to a doctor's appointment and shopping trip when a bullet pierced the driver's door and killed her Nov. 25. No one else was hit.

McCoy, 28, who lives a half-mile north of the stretch of I-270 where the shootings were concentrated, has been held without bond on a charge of felonious assault in the Dec. 15 shooting that hit a house. He was arrested March 17 in Las Vegas, two days after investigators released his photo and a description of his car.

Police and relatives have said McCoy is mentally ill but have released no details.

Court records show McCoy bought the gun investigators say is linked to one of the shootings on Sept. 30.

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