SPECIAL REPORT: Columbus shooting suspect in police custody

| 3/17/2004

Police in Las Vegas have apprehended the chief suspect in a series of highway shootings that took place in Columbus, OH, press outlets reported March 17.

The suspect, Charles A. McCoy Jr., was arrested in one of the city’s gambling establishments after he was identified by another casino patron. The suspect was not armed when he was arrested; the police apprehended him without incident, press outlets reported.

Police also confiscated a four-door, dark green 1999 Geo Metro with a black hood – which matches the description of McCoy’s car, as well as the description of shooter’s car provided by witnesses.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, which is the chief agency investigating the shootings, identified Charles A. McCoy Jr. as the chief suspect in the shootings just a day earlier.

McCoy was sought in connection with two dozen confirmed shootings that have taken place since May 2003 in and around Columbus, OH, many near the southwestern part of the I-270 loop. Only one bullet hit a human target, killing area resident Gail Knisley Nov. 25, just before the Thanksgiving holiday. Knisley was riding in the car of a friend who was taking her to see a doctor.

McCoy lives in the area of the shootings; the children of one of his neighbors attend a school that was hit by one of the bullets.

At least five commercial motor vehicles were also hit by bullets, according to police and press reports, including a Yellow Freight truck, a UPS delivery truck, a Coca-Cola truck, an 18-wheeler out of Texas and the Virginia-based rig.

Several of the most recent shootings linked to the spree occurred on Interstate 71 south of Columbus, near mile marker 71 not far from Jeffersonville, OH – 30 miles and two counties away from the site of most of the shootings. Two cars were hit, one near the Brock Road overpass and one at the nearby Prairie Road overpass.

Officials with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department say witnesses at those shootings provided a description – a white male near a small to mid-size dark-colored sedan. Police also picked up significant clues after a car driven by area resident Michael Thomas was shot at 12:45 a.m. Jan. 22 in an area south of Columbus at the Franklin-Pickaway county line.

Since his arrest, further details of what led police to him have surfaced. The Columbus Dispatch, citing unidentified sources, said McCoy's father, Charles A. McCoy Sr., provided two handguns that belonged to the suspect to investigators, who were able to ballistically match one of the weapons to bullets and bullet fragments recovered from nine of the shootings.

A reward of $60,000 was offered for information that leads to an arrest in the case, and more than 5,000 tips were called in to investigators. No word was available yet on whether the reward was given to the man who identified McCoy.

--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor

Mark Reddig can be reached at mark_reddig@landlinemag.com.