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Gunfire appears linked to other Ohio shootings

Witness: 'I seen the guy on the bridge'

A gunshot left a hole in the side of this vehicle east of Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.
A gunshot left a hole in the side of this vehicle east of Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday.

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Steve Martin, Chief Deputy of Franklin County Sheriff's Department says an SUV on Interstate 70 in Granville, Ohio, was shot on Saturday, and the driver gave a description of the shooter.
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A van and a car were shot on an interstate minutes apart in a case resembling a series of sniper shootings along an Ohio highway.
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Ohio Highway Sniper
Crime, Law and Justice

(CNN) -- Gunfire struck an SUV east of Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday in a shooting that appears linked to a spate of others nearby and is another sign that the shooter may be becoming bolder, police said.

No one was hurt in the shooting, which was reported at 10:15 a.m. in an eastbound lane of Interstate 70 west of State Highway 310, 20 miles east of Columbus, said Chief Deputy Steve Martin of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department.

Witnesses told police they saw a man fire a handgun from a toll road overpass, Martin told reporters. The shooter was described as a white man between 30 and 40, of average height and weight, with dark hair, and wearing a dark hat and dark sunglasses.

A single bullet struck the front passenger-side fender of the 1988 Chevrolet Suburban and lodged in its battery, Martin said. Evidence was taken to the Columbus police crime laboratory for analysis, he said.

A preliminary investigation conducted by the task force investigating 23 other shootings that have been linked show that this latest shooting also "appears to be related," Martin said.

Martin said the latest incident "is pretty consistent with what our shooter has done in the past."

After firing, the man casually got into a small- to mid-sized, dark-colored sedan and drove off, Martin said.

"The person appeared to be in no hurry," he said, citing reports from five witnesses, including the Suburban's driver, who called 911.

"I think we'll probably all agree that our particular shooter is becoming much more aggressive -- much bolder -- in letting himself be seen by the public," Martin said. "His intent is to hurt somebody."

Martin repeated a statement he has made before -- that officials are closing in on the shooter, whose spree appears to have begun in May. Asked why he feels that way, Martin said, "Because I know a lot about what we're doing."

Although some witnesses said the man's car was a Geo Metro, Martin would not be that specific.

"What we do not want to do is be fixated on some kind of a car and later find out that that's not exactly what we're looking at. That's the reason we are general in the description of the vehicle."

Asked whether he believes one person is responsible for all 24 shootings, he said, "Right now, I don't have any reason to think differently."

Witnesses describe man on overpass

Joe Joan said he was in the eastbound lane of I-70, driving with his wife, Vicky, and their three children, when he heard the gunshot.

"Then I seen the guy on the bridge. I looked in my rear-view mirror and then I seen him," he said. "I said, 'Vicky, that's the sniper.' "

Joan said he saw a white man with black hair, about 6 feet tall, and about 28-30 years old.

Kristan Hoover told a reporter she and her family were driving behind the Suburban when she saw the man on the bridge, apparently after the shot was fired.

"He was outside of his car and got in his car and just very slowly drove away."

She described him as wearing a black hat or having black hair, and wearing a black coat and black jeans.

Hoover said she called police.

"I was shaking when I called," she said. "I wanted to, because I think we need to catch him. It's starting to get scary."

Authorities in Ohio have linked 23 previous shootings on or near the southwest corridor of Interstate 270, which circles Columbus. Gail Knisley, 62, was killed November 25 when a bullet pierced her car window as she rode on 270. No other injuries have been reported.

The most recent shootings happened February 8. No one was injured in those two shootings, which happened at two interstate overpasses about a mile from each other around 11:20 a.m. In each case, a bullet struck the driver's-side hood of vehicles traveling north on Interstate 71 southwest of Columbus. The shootings took place within minutes of each other.

There is a $60,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of whoever is responsible.

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