Police seek federal help in highway shootings

AP News
Posted: Apr 08, 2014 10:19 PM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Federal authorities are investigating more than a dozen apparently random shootings targeting vehicles on Kansas City-area roads and highways to determine whether they are connected, a police spokesman said Tuesday.

Darryl Forté, the Kansas City, Mo., police chief, met with the FBI Monday to discuss the incidents and had scheduled other meetings this week with federal investigators, Capt. Tye Grant said.

Thirteen shootings have been reported since March 8, most of them in an area on the city's south side known as the Grandview Triangle, where three interstate highways and U.S. 50 intersect. Three people were wounded, but none were considered life-threatening, Grant said.

While there are similarities in geography, time of day and the circumstances of the shootings, there is no physical evidence connecting them, Grant said. In all of the cases, someone fired shots just before reaching a highway exit ramp or road split, then veered off in a different direction from the victim's vehicle.

Detectives and police analysts started noticing a pattern last week after reports of shootings started coming in, and by Sunday had identified 13 that had occurred over a four-week span. Ten of them happened in Kansas City, Mo., with the other three in the suburbs of Leawood, Kan., Blue Springs, Mo., and Lee's Summit, Mo.

"Some of the people didn't realize they were being shot at, so when the incidents were reported they were taken down as possible property damage," Grant said.

In the March 8 shooting, a 72-year-old man was driving south on Interstate 435 near the Interstate 470 interchange at 9:45 p.m. when he heard a loud noise and noticed a crack in the front windshield. He pulled over and found a bullet hole in his hood.

The next shooting didn't happen until three weeks later, when a 22-year-old woman was driving south on Ward Parkway with her 3-year-old daughter at 1 p.m. on March 29 when a car pulled up alongside and she heard a loud popping noise. She was taking her daughter out of the car at home when she noticed a large bullet hole in the door near where the girl had been sitting.

The most recent shooting was Sunday, when a 57-year-old Blue Springs man was driving east on Interstate 470 when he heard two large bangs and thought he had run over something. About that time he also felt what he thought was a charley horse in his left leg, but when he put his hand down he found blood, pulled over and called 911.

The man had been shot in the calf, and officers found three bullet holes in the driver's side of his car.

One other driver was shot in the leg, while the third was shot in the arm, police said.

"This isn't the first time I've heard of a random shooting reported, but as far as several of them possibly being linked, I can't think of another situation that has occurred in the Kansas City area," Grant said.

Kansas City police already work closely with their federal counterparts, he said, so involvement by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the case isn't unusual.

No new shootings have been reported since Sunday.

The police department, FBI and ATF are offering a $7,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the shootings.