- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The man suspected in two dozen sniper shootings that have terrorized motorists along Ohio highways was arrested at a Las Vegas motel early yesterday.

Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, was taken into custody two days after he was identified as a suspect in the shootings that left one woman dead and pierced cars and homes in the Columbus area, said Las Vegas police Lt. Christopher Van Cleef.

“We got him in custody without incident,” Lt. Van Cleef said.

Police were told of Mr. McCoy’s whereabouts by a man who spotted him at the Stardust casino, recognized him from news reports and found out where he was staying, Lt. Van Cleef said. Las Vegas police staked out the motel and arrested Mr. McCoy in the parking lot.

“He wasn’t armed, but we haven’t been in the motel room or his vehicle yet,” Lt. Van Cleef said. He said police have impounded the car that Mr. McCoy was driving.

The son of the only person to be struck in the shootings praised law-enforcement efforts and said the family of Gail Knisley, 62, was glad Mr. McCoy was in custody.

“We are glad for today’s news, but our hearts will never be the same,” Brent Knisley said at a news conference in Columbus.

Authorities had said Mr. McCoy had a history of mental illness and was thought to be armed, with “suicidal or homicidal tendencies.” His family disputed that description, calling Mr. McCoy troubled but peaceful.

“I knew it would happen without incident because he was a very passive individual,” Mr. McCoy’s sister Amy Walton said on NBC’s “Today” show. “This came as a great shock to our family.”

Police have not suggested a motive for the sniper attacks, and few details have emerged about their suspect.

Conrad Malsom, 60, of Las Vegas, said he told authorities that he met Mr. McCoy at the Stardust casino on Tuesday. He said he offered Mr. McCoy a slice of pizza and recognized the disheveled-looking man with a darkening beard.

Mr. McCoy was reading a copy of USA Today that featured his photograph, Mr. Malsom said.

“In my heart and mind, I knew this was the man the police in Ohio were looking for,” Mr. Malsom told the Associated Press.

He said Mr. McCoy told him that his name was “Mike” and that he was staying at the nearby motel. When he left the casino, Mr. Malsom found “bizarre writing” on an 8-inch-by-14-inch sports betting sheet the man left behind.

“Each line started with ‘You’ or ‘You are,’ but you can’t read it, you can’t read any of it,” Mr. Malsom said.

He said he turned over the sheet to authorities, along with a water glass, matchbook and lunch wrappers that Mr. McCoy left behind.

FBI Special Agent Todd Palmer said Mr. McCoy is being processed in the agency’s office and likely will be transferred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Authorities said Mr. McCoy had been questioned about the shootings, but not charged.

An arrest warrant accuses Mr. McCoy of felonious assault in a shooting with a 9 mm handgun that damaged a house on Dec. 15.

The 24 shootings near several highways on the southern outskirts of Columbus pierced homes and a school, dented school buses, flattened tires and shattered windshields. They began in May.

The shootings prompted commuters to take detours and schools to cancel classes or hold recess indoors. Police increased patrols, and the state installed cameras on poles along Interstate 270.

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