Truckers traveling in the Columbus, OH, should keep an eye out for any suspicious behavior as law-enforcement officials continue to search for the person or persons who have shot at 12 targets, including vehicles and buildings, in the area.
All the shootings, including one fatal incident, took place near the southwest portion of Interstate 270, a circumferential route around the city.
"Obviously, truckers are going to have a greater exposure than most others in the area, and they could be in a much better position to identify suspicious behavior and report that behavior to the appropriate authorities," Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA, said.
Sgt. Rick Zwayer, spokesman for public affairs unit of the Ohio Highway Patrol, said that if any kind of dangerous situation occurs or a trucker sees criminal behavior taking place, the trucker should call 9-1-1 immediately.
If a trucker thinks his rig has been shot at or the trucker has been shot, the first priority is to move as quickly as possible to a safe location – and then call 9-1-1.
"But don't forget the area in which you may have been shot at," Zwayer said. "Look at the surroundings, look at land markings, try to decipher where it may have occurred so investigators can get out there quickly and respond to it, in order to possibly apprehend the suspect or suspects that may be involved."
Zwayer said there are a number of things truckers should be on the look out for in the Columbus area:
- People acting suspicious hanging around bridges or overpasses;
- Someone “trying to be covert” in covered areas or wooded areas;
- Anything that looks out of the ordinary.
"That includes areas outside of the Columbus area," he said. "If drivers view something that looks to be suspicious or criminal in nature, they should be calling."
"Something like this could happen anywhere," he added. "The fact that it's kind of highlighted in the south Columbus area is not something that happens very often."
If a trucker sees something suspicious or they have a tip or other information regarding the shootings – and it is not an emergency situation – then he or she should call either the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department at (614) 462-3333, which is leading the investigation into the shootings, or the Highway Patrol at 1-877-7-PATROL (1-877-772-8765).
In addition, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department has set up a special phone line for tips regarding the shootings, (614) 462-4646.
Twelve shootings have taken place in and around Columbus, OH, since May. Authorities now believe that all 12 shootings at or near the southwestern part of I-270, a loop highway surrounding Columbus, are linked.
Only one bullet hit a human target. It struck and killed local 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. A pickup truck was hit just a few hours later nearby. Other bullets have hit a school and other cars.
Police are moving closer to solving the case. While they would not release many details, they have received more than 500 tips, according to The Associated Press, and they have linked the bullets from four of the shootings through ballistics.
--by Mark H. Reddig, associate editor
Mark Reddig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: For more information on the Ohio situation, please see the following articles:
SPECIAL REPORT: Trucker has a close encounter with Ohio sniper (12/4/2003)
Two men shot on Ohio Turnpike; police say not related to Columbus shootings (12/5/03)
Shooting victims say they saw juveniles with guns on bridge in Ohio (12/5/03)
Highway near Columbus briefly closed; number of linked shootings up to 14 (12-09-03)
Cameras placed along section of highway where shootings took place (12-10-03)