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Ohio Shootings Reward Doubles

The reward for information about the person behind 14 highway shootings on Interstate 270 in Columbus is doubling, from $10,000 to $20,000 for information leading to an arrest, up from $10,000.

One person was killed in what's being called the Outerbelt shootings, reports CBS affiliate WBNS-TV.

Investigators this weekend canvassed a nearby neighborhood, looking for either tips about the shootings — or evidence of the shooter himself.

"I'm sure they were trying to see if they could sense anything — if anyone felt uncomfortable or suspicious," Pete Wallace, 36, of Hamilton Meadows, told The Columbus Dispatch.

"What is clear is that there exists a certain level of comfort experienced by the shooter or shooters in this particular neighborhood," said Franklin County Chief Deputy Steve Martin.

Martin also said investigators were analyzing results from tests performed on I-270 Saturday. The south outerbelt was shut down for several hours while investigators took measurements and ran tests for information about the shooter. Similar measurements were taken Friday night at a house in Obetz that was struck November 30.

So far, 14 shootings have been linked to the I-270 shooter. Ballistics tests showed five of those bullets came from the same gun, including the bullet that killed Gail Knisley Nov. 25 as she was riding in a car as a passenger.

The Franklin County Sheriff's office is not offering the public much information about its investigation. Though several agencies are involved in the investigation, they defer questions about the case to the sheriff.

Martin has deflected questions about the type of weapon and caliber of bullets, saying the information is essential to the investigation.

"We realize it's very tempting (for journalists) to put out information that has not been confirmed," Martin said at his Saturday briefing. "We in law enforcement, knowing all the facts, are facing decisions daily as to what information to release to the public."

He habitually closes his daily news briefings after about 10 minutes, and refuses to take reporter calls outside of the briefings.

Officials will say only that the same weapon has been used in five shootings, but they will not identify it. And they will not say why they believe the other shootings are connected, other than they are in the same area.

Martin also has criticized journalists for quoting psychologists and criminal profiling experts, saying he doesn't want the public to draw any conclusions about the shooter, which might reduce the flow of tips.

The silence did get broken by police in suburban Obetz when they told a victim that the bullet that splintered the paneled wall in his house last week must have come from a high-powered rifle, because a handgun or shotgun wouldn't have the firepower.

Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI agent who examined patterns of criminal behavior, said limiting the information is "the right thing in this juncture of the investigation."

Van Zandt said being cautious limits the risk of the public excluding possible information that could help authorities.

He said releasing more information later may be helpful if the investigation stalls.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of the book "Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill," said releasing too much information in the Maryland sniper shootings last year helped turn the killers into celebrities and created a mystique about them.

"The law enforcement community permitted this to be glamorized," he said.

But Jack Levin, a criminologist and director of the Brudnick Center on Violence at Northeastern University, said it could be a disadvantage to limit the release of information.

"They ought to err in informing the public so that the public can help them solve the case," Levin said.

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