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Police check new reports in Ohio shooting probe

Franklin County, Ohio, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Martin says investigators are trying to avoid
Franklin County, Ohio, Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Martin says investigators are trying to avoid "tunnel vision" in following tips.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (CNN) -- A task force investigating a string of 15 shootings near Columbus, Ohio, is expected to follow up Wednesday on two new reports of gun-related activity near where most of the shootings have taken place.

Authorities have said fifteen of the shootings are linked due to their proximity to Interstate 270, an expressway encircling Columbus, and similarity of details in the shootings.

They said they have tied six shootings to the same gun, including the November 25 slaying of 62-year-old Gail Knisley.

Shortly after midnight Wednesday, an Obetz police officer reported a person with a gun spotted near Obetz-Reese Road and an I-270 overpass, south of Columbus, but a further check of the area did not turn up anything, according to a police spokesman.

Around 12:30 a.m., someone reported gunshots near a school in Hamilton township at Hamilton and Lockbourne roads just outside I-270, the spokesman said.

Police did not find anything, but the Franklin County Sheriff Department's task force will investigate further in daylight hours, Detective Mike Kirkpatrick said.

Authorities announced Tuesday that a newly reported shooting in mid-November has been linked through ballistics evidence to the other shootings, which now total 15.

Franklin County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Steve Martin said a bullet taken from a van hit November 15 in a used-car lot north of I-270 has been conclusively matched to bullets from five other shootings.

Martin said authorities also are looking into a report from a woman driving Tuesday morning on High Street, just inside I-270, who said a man in a tan vehicle pulled up beside her and pointed a gun at her. No shots were fired, and she drove off, Martin said.

Asked about reports that a tan vehicle also was seen near some of the shootings, Martin said that investigators are keeping an open mind.

"One thing we want to guard against is what happened in other venues where they put out a specific kind of vehicle, and everybody gets that kind of a focus," he told reporters. "We don't want to get tunnel vision."

Martin was referring to last year's hunt for the Washington-area sniper in which investigators put out a description of a white-box truck that reportedly had been seen at many of the shooting sites. The two accused in the shootings later were found in a dark-blue Chevrolet Caprice.

Martin said that more than 1,500 leads have been called in to the task force tip line and that the reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case stands at $20,000.

On Monday, transportation workers installed cameras on the southern corridor of I-270. (Full story)

Authorities theorize that the shooter or shooters are familiar with Obetz, a town of about 4,000 that lies just inside I-270 on Columbus' south side, and that they may live, work or drive through that area. (Full story)

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