- The Washington Times - Monday, February 16, 2004

COLUMBUS (AP) — Ballistics testing has confirmed that a shot fired at an SUV on a busy highway was the 24th in a series of highway shootings in the Columbus area, investigators said yesterday.

The bullet recovered from the sport utility vehicle that was struck Saturday on Interstate 70 matches eight others recovered during the investigation, including one that killed a woman in November, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said.

The other shootings in the series are linked by other factors, including location and circumstances.

No one was injured in the most recent shooting, which took place near Pataskala, about 15 miles east of Columbus.

Witnesses to Saturday’s shooting said a man standing on a highway overpass fired a handgun, hitting a Chevrolet Suburban in its front right fender. The bullet lodged itself in the vehicle’s battery, where police recovered it for the match.

The witnesses described the shooter as a clean-shaven white male in his 30s with dark hair, wearing a hat and sunglasses and driving a small black sedan, similar to a Chevrolet Metro.

“Our particular shooter is becoming much more aggressive, much bolder,” said Franklin County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steve Martin, a spokesman for the task force investigating the shootings.

The SUV driver said he saw the shooter on the overpass.

“You need to hurry because that guy was just on the bridge,” he told a 911 operator.

Patrol spokesman Sgt. Richard Zwayer said authorities “had aircraft in the area within moments,” but that the shooter “was able to blend into traffic and slip away.”

The serial shootings began in May, although most have occurred since mid-October.

Until last month, the gunfire at vehicles and buildings was scattered along or near Interstate 270, the busy highway that circles Columbus.

The four February shootings before Saturday, including two on Feb. 7, had moved progressively farther toward the southwest, along Interstate 71.

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