Authorities in Kansas City, Mo., used license plate readers and a GPS tracking device to help collar a suspect in a string of highway shootings, according to court documents.
The suspect, 27-year-old Mohammed Pedro Whitaker, of Grandview, Mo., faces 18 felony counts, including nine Class A charges related to shooting into a motor vehicle and injuring a person. Each charge is also paired with a charge of armed criminal action. He remains in jail in lieu of $1 million bond.
Whitaker was arrested April 18 following an almost monthlong search by police for a suspect in a string of shootings on Kansas City area highways. The first reported incident occurred March 8 through the most recent reported shooting on April 6.
According to a probable cause statement filed in connection with Whitaker’s arrest, the suspect was under surveillance for about a week, in which time officers observed him driving aggressively, pacing cars in their blind spots, and attempting to buy a handgun from another individual in a Bass Pro Shops parking lot. Records also indicate officers found a .380 caliber handgun and ammunition at the suspect’s apartment, as well as receipts for the purchase of ammunition made during the period the shootings were taking place.
The Kansas City Star has published a copy of the probable cause statement on its website. The court records state police received a phone call through an anonymous tips hotline on April 8 that led to a break in the case. The caller related information about a suspicious vehicle – a dark green sedan, with Illinois plates and a dented rear fender. A second witness also provided officers with a similar description of a suspicious vehicle and a license plate number.
The probable cause statement states that police put the license plate information through a database, which matched the plate to three different vehicles all parked in front of the same home in the 9600 block of Beacon St., including a green Dodge Neon with a damaged driver’s side. The house directly behind the property where the cars were located had also reported a shooting incident in October of 2013, when a .380-caliber bullet was found to have been fired into the bathroom of the home. The probable cause statement notes that the bullet trajectory appears to have come from the general direction of the Beacon Street property.
The spent bullet was linked by ballistics testing to the same .380 caliber handgun used in 11 of the highway shooting incidents.
Most of the shootings – estimated between 13 and 20 – occurred in the evening or at night, with the majority occurring at the junction of Interstate 435, I-470 and U.S. Highway 71 – an area known to metro residents as the Grandview Triangle.
Three people had been hit by bullets, but their injuries were not deemed serious. Highway shootings occurred at a few other locations as well.
Land Line associate editor David Tanner contributed to this report.
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