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Suspect in Ohio highway shootings arrested in Las Vegas

Associated Press

Published on: 03/17/04

LAS VEGAS -- The man suspected in two dozen sniper shootings that have terrorized motorists along Ohio highways was arrested at a Las Vegas motel early Wednesday, authorities said.

Charles A. McCoy Jr.




Charles A. McCoy Jr., 28, was taken into custody near the Stardust casino two days after he was named as a suspect in the Columbus-area shootings, said Las Vegas police Lt. Christopher Van Cleef.

"We got him in custody without incident," Van Cleef said.

Police were told of McCoy's whereabouts by a person who recognized him from media reports, Van Cleef said. Las Vegas police said they staked out McCoy's motel and arrested him after he identified himself.

"He wasn't armed, but we haven't been in the motel room or his vehicle yet," Van Cleef said. He said police have impounded a 1999 Geo Metro that McCoy was driving.

Police had said McCoy had a history of mental illness and was believed to be armed, with "suicidal or homicidal tendencies." His family refuted that description, calling McCoy troubled but peaceful.

"I knew it would happen without incident because he was a very passive individual," McCoy's sister Amy Walton said on NBC's "Today" show. "This came as a great shock to our family."

When asked what she would say to her brother, Walton said, "We can't wait to talk to you. Everything will be OK."

Conrad Malsom, 60, of Las Vegas said he told authorities he met McCoy at the Stardust casino late Tuesday. He said he offered McCoy a slice of pizza but recognized the disheveled-looking man with a darkening beard from photographs in newspapers.

"In my heart and mind, I knew this was the man the police in Ohio were looking for," Malsom told The Associated Press.

He said McCoy told him his name was "Mike." When he left the casino, Malsom found "bizarre writing" on a 8 1/2 by 14-inch sports betting sheet the man left behind.

"There was writing -- it filled the whole sheet -- about 30 lines," Malsom said.

"Each line started with 'You' or 'You are' but you can't read it, you can't read any of it," he said of the illegible scribble. He said he turned the sheet over to authorities.

FBI special agent Todd Palmer said McCoy is being processed in the agency's office and likely will be transferred to the U.S. attorney's office.

"They'll be in communication with the Columbus U.S. attorney," Palmer said.

Authorities said McCoy had been questioned about the shootings, but not charged.

The 24 shootings around several highways on the southern outskirts of Columbus pierced homes and a school, dented school buses, flattened tires and shattered windshields. They began in May.

The shootings prompted commuters to take detours and schools to cancel classes or hold recess indoors. Police increased patrols and offered a $60,000 reward. The state installed cameras on poles along Interstate 270.

The only person struck, Gail Knisley, 62, was killed as a friend drove her to a doctor's appointment Nov. 25. Lab tests showed that bullets from nine of the shootings

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