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Ballistics tests link Ohio shooting to 23 others

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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Ballistics tests confirm that a bullet that struck an SUV on Saturday in Licking County, Ohio, is linked to 23 other shootings near Columbus. (February 16)
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(CNN) -- Ballistics tests confirm that a bullet that struck an SUV yesterday in Licking County, Ohio, is linked to 23 other shootings near Columbus, the task force investigating the shootings said Sunday.

The bullet recovered from a 1988 Chevrolet Suburban about 17 miles east of Columbus matches eight other bullets, including the one that killed a woman in November, the task force said in a written statement.

No one was hurt in the shooting Saturday.

Witnesses told police they saw a man fire a handgun from a toll road overpass over Interstate 70 about a mile west of State Route 310, Chief Deputy Steve Martin of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department told reporters Saturday. They described the man as white, about 30-40 years old, 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 Suburban and lodged in its battery, Martin said. Evidence was taken to the Columbus police crime laboratory for analysis, he said.

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 driving in the eastbound lane of I-70 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."

Using ballistics and other means, 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.

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

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