Sniper Suspect Dragnet In Ohio

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
Authorities released the name of a suspect Monday in a series of 24 highway shootings in and around Columbus, Ohio.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Office said the suspect, Charles A. McCoy Jr., 29, should be considered armed and dangerous. Investigators did not provide McCoy's hometown.

The shootings at vehicles and buildings started in May, although most have been since October. The most recent was on February 14th.

As CBS' Chris Lawrence reports, investigators would not say what evidence connects McCoy to the crimes - but they're concerned he'll strike again.

"Because we believe he bought another gun," said Steve Martin, with the Franklin County Sheriff's department. "That is the key issue right now - to locate this guy."

Martin would not say what evidence led investigators to McCoy. He said the shootings task force did not know where McCoy was.

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

"Anyone that sees McCoy or his vehicle should contact a 911 operator immediately," added Martin. "We caution the public not to try and apprehend or confront McCoy."

The sheriff's office describes McCoy as a white male with brown hair and green eyes. He's five-feet-seven-inches tall and weighs 185 pounds.

Investigators say he drives a dark green 1999 Chevy Metro four-door with a black hood. The license plate is CGV7387.

The description of the man and car is similar to what witnesses to the last three shootings have reported to investigators.

One person has died in the serial shootings, which have targeted vehicles, homes and schools near the highway encircling Columbus. Most of the sniper shootings have occurred in an area of I-270 and I-71 on the south side of Columbus.

Lab tests showed that bullets from nine of the 24 shootings were fired from the same gun. The most recent incident happened on Valentine's Day - and just as in two previous shootings - witnesses described seeing someone aiming at them while standing next to a car. Lawrence reports both McCoy and his car fit the descriptions.

In the most recent shooting on Feb. 14, a man standing on a highway overpass fired a handgun at a sport utility vehicle on Interstate 70. No one was injured in the late morning shooting near Pataskala, about 15 miles east of Columbus.

The bullet struck the SUV's right front fender and lodged in the battery. It was recovered and sent for lab testing.

The SUV driver and four other 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, Martin said.

The description matched the one given by witnesses who were shot at last Sunday on Interstate 71 southwest of Columbus.

Edward Cable, whose minivan was hit by a bullet Nov. 21 as he drove on U.S. 23 near Lucasville, was glad to hear that a suspect has been identified.

"I just hope they find him soon, and I wish it hadn't taken so long," said Cable. "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."