Police say shooter targeting moving cars in Ohio

AP News
Posted: Dec 22, 2009 4:54 PM

A gunman appears to be targeting moving vehicles in a small patch of suburban Cleveland, hitting at least four cars in three shootings since mid-August, police said Tuesday. No one has been hurt.

All the shootings have happened on or near Prospect Street within a half-mile area in a residential neighborhood bordered by a park in the city of Berea. Investigators think the same person is responsible because the caliber of weapon is similar, police Lt. Gary Black said.

The latest shooting happened early Saturday just after midnight when the driver of an SUV found a bullet hole in a rear window near the roof.

Another driver, whose car was shot in August, said he found a bullet in his trunk after hearing what he thought was a firecracker.

"Had it been 20 inches higher, it would have been in the back of me," Randy Thatcher, of Strongsville, told The Associated Press. "I thought it was just a random thing until the second one happened."

Police have increased patrols in the area and talked with residents.

"Even if this person isn't trying to hit somebody, he could do so by accident," Black said.

The shootings have been centered on Prospect Street, which cuts through the middle of Berea, a suburb home to Baldwin-Wallace College and the Cleveland Browns' practice facility.

Thatcher said he tries to avoid going down the street where his car was shot, but he can't always avoid it. "Everybody's pretty upset about it," he said.

Two of the shootings happened just after midnight, but the third one in October took place right around noon when two cars were hit along a park access road, police said.

It doesn't appear that the shooter is targeting any particular type of vehicle, Black said.

Residents along the street say they're concerned but not panicked.

"I didn't realize the shootings were still going on. That's not good to hear," said Karen Krakowski, who recalled hearing gunshots near her house over the summer.

James Thomas, who lives only a block away from where the first car was shot, said he hasn't changed his driving routes.

"It's hard to avoid the area if you don't know the area where the shots are coming from," he said.

In 2006, Charles McCoy Jr. of Columbus was sentenced to 27 years in prison for shooting at cars and buildings on and around central Ohio highways in late 2003 and early 2004. One person hit in the shootings died.

An October 2002 shooting spree left 10 people dead and terrorized Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., over a three-week period. John Allen Muhammad was executed in Virginia last month for killing a man at a gas station. His teenage accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, was sentenced to life in prison for one of the killings.