Ohio Highway Sniper Manhunt

Police released this photo of Charles A. McCoy when they announced he was a suspect in the shootings on March 15, 2004. Authorities said McCoy, who had not been seen in several days, had a history of mental illness and was believed to be armed.
AP
Police were hunting for a 28-year-old man who they believe may be the elusive gunman linked to two dozen highway shootings that have terrorized area motorists for months.

CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston reports the suspect, Charles A. McCoy Jr., lived with his mother in a house near I-270, within a few miles of where the gunman's bullets killed a passenger, shattered windshields, dented school buses and drilled into homes and a school.

"The key issue for us right now is to locate this guy," Franklin County Chief Deputy Sheriff Steve Martin said. "We believe he bought another gun."

In the three most recent shootings, witnesses described seeing someone aiming at them while standing next to a car. Their descriptions of the suspect and car were similar to information the sheriff's office released Monday.

The suspect is a 5-foot-8, 185-pound white male with brown hair and green eyes, the sheriff's office said. The car is a dark green 1999 Geo Metro with a black hood.

"I don't know if he's still local," Martin said. "We don't have any reason to believe he's not."

Investigators filed an arrest warrant late Monday for McCoy on a charge of felonious assault in a Dec. 15 shooting that damaged a house.

Since May, two dozen sniper shootings have targeted vehicles and buildings around Interstate 270, which circles Columbus, and other highways. Most of the shootings have occurred since October; the latest was on Feb. 14.

Martin would not say what evidence led investigators to McCoy.

There are published reports that people were led to him by a relative, said Pinkston. It is known that his father turned in some weapons to authorities, and one of the weapons has been connected to some of the shootings that began last May."

From the beginning, Martin has said investigators believe the shooter is familiar with the area around I-270. Although the last four shootings were on other highways, most of those that occurred through January were within about a 10-mile southern stretch of the interstate.

He had only lived in the house about six months, reports Pinkston, and most neighbors didn't know him. Those who did say that he had complained about noisy children and that he 'seemed a bit weird' in the words of one of them."

"He was a weird person all the way around," neighbor Janet Taylor said on CBS News' The Early Show. "On Friday, I had told my kids, I said, 'I think that the weirdo next door is moving out' because I seen him also Friday packing boxes into his mother's Bronco."

Taylor said she saw McCoy drive off Monday morning in a car different than one police have described.

"The car was a late '80s, like a Grand Am," she told co-anchor René Syler. "It was like a -- I wouldn't say silver. It was like a primer color."

Taylor said McCoy gave her an uneasy feeling.

"He was always gawking at me, my children," she said. "He just had a weird feeling, to me, about him. And I'm a protective mother of my sons ... He always made me feel uneasy."

"They are telling anyone who sees him to stay away and call authorities, because McCoy is believed to be armed and dangerous," said Pinkston.

Bullets struck homes, school buses, vans, cars, delivery trucks and tractor-trailers. The only person hit, Gail Knisley, 62, was fatally wounded Nov. 25 while riding in a car on I-270.

Lab tests showed that bullets from nine of the shootings were fired from the same gun. The others were linked by location and circumstance.

The warrant issued Monday charges McCoy with firing two rounds from a 9 mm handgun into an occupied residence near I-270. Authorities had not previously identified the type of gun used in the shootings.

Two bullet holes were found on the front of the house and a bullet was found in a bathtub. No one answered the phone there late Monday.

Edward Cable, whose minivan was hit by a bullet Nov. 21 as he was driving on a road near Interstate 270, said by telephone he was glad to hear a suspect was identified.

"I just hope they find him soon, and I wish it hadn't taken so long," the retired prison guard said. "If they do have concrete evidence that this guy was the one who did it, I hope they pick him up before someone else is shot."

"The whole city, town, state has been just in a state of terror because of what he's done, what's going on," said Taylor. "You know, people were afraid to go on the freeway. Kids were afraid go to school. Parents were afraid for them to go to school.

"And for me to think that I was living right next door to him, you know, it's scarier now than when the news first came out there was a sniper," she said.