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Ohio police consult other sniper cases

Source: 'These shootings show intention and purpose'

Chief Deputy Steve Martin:
Chief Deputy Steve Martin: "We are comfortable, collectively, that those 12 [shootings] are related."

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) -- Law officials investigating 12 shootings in the Columbus area are talking with other jurisdictions that have experienced sniper shootings -- including Washington, D.C., and outlying areas.

Chief Deputy Steve Martin of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday that among the agencies contacted are those in West Virginia investigating several still-unsolved shootings earlier this year.

Authorities also are working with an FBI profiling unit, he said.

Most of the 12 incidents have taken place near the southwest corner of the Ohio capital's Interstate 270 circle.

Only one person has died, Gail Knisley, 62, who was riding in a car when she was struck and killed by a single bullet.

While only four of the shootings have been conclusively linked through ballistics evidence, "we are comfortable, collectively, that those 12 are related," Martin said Tuesday.

A person taken into custody in southwest Columbus after a shooting incident earlier Wednesday is probably not related to the freeway shootings, Martin said at a daily news briefing.

But Martin would not comment about whether a "person of interest" was in custody.

Martin appealed again to whoever is responsible for the shootings to talk to police.

"To the shooter or shooters of these cases, we continue to wish to open a communication with you," Martin said, asking that they call the tip line or write to the Franklin County Sheriff's Department.

The chief deputy said 750 leads had been called in to the tip line and that investigators were "optimistic" they would solve all 12 cases. A $10,000 reward has also been offered for information in the case.

Police said Tuesday that a 12th incident that does not fit the description of the highway shootings was linked to the case.

The shooting took place at 1:30 a.m. on November 11 at Hamilton Township Central Elementary School in the village of Obetz, south of Columbus.

The school's alarm system went off when a bullet was fired into a window at the front of the empty building, Martin said.

Police investigating the other shootings learned of the incident Monday, and an analysis of the bullet linked the incident to the weapon used to kill Knisley, Martin said.

The opening of deer season has brought dozens of hunters to the wooded areas near the section of the highway where many of the shootings have occurred, but one law enforcement source told CNN the shootings were no accident.

"These shootings show intention and purpose," the source said.

The law enforcement source said the investigation is complicated by hunting season because of the numerous shells investigators are finding in the woods.

None of the shootings before the November 25 attack on Knisley resulted in injury or death. There have been no additional shootings since her death, which triggered an avalanche of public and media attention on the incidents.

Shooting believed not linked

Meanwhile, in what police said appeared to be an unrelated shooting, authorities were questioning a man Wednesday in connection with a highway shooting about 90 miles north of Columbus near the Ohio town of Milan.

Stephen D. McMullen, 29, and Darryle E. Webster, 20, both were wounded by bullets while traveling west on the Ohio Turnpike about 7:16 p.m. Tuesday, according to a news release from the highway patrol's post in Milan.

Webster told police that two other vehicles -- a white Cadillac and a vehicle with Oregon license plates, also traveling westbound on the turnpike -- may have been involved in the shooting, which took place in Berlin Township, Erie County.

Officers from nearby Wakeman spotted a car with Oregon plates, and detained the driver for questioning.

McMullen, who is from East Cleveland, Ohio, was shot in the head and flown to St. Vincent's Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, about 60 miles west of Milan.

Webster, of Detroit, Michigan, was treated and released from a hospital in Norwalk, Ohio, for a gunshot wound to his left hand.

Police are seeking information from anyone who may have witnessed the incident.

Lt. Chet Engle of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said Tuesday's shooting did not appear to be related to the Columbus shootings "at this point."

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