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Ohio Closes Highway to Probe Shootings

December 8, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) _ Authorities closed nearly half of the beltway around the city for two hours after dusk Saturday as federal agents investigating 14 shootings there used lasers to take ballistic measurements.

Agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms walked in the westbound lane of Interstate 270 as a sedan crept along in the eastbound lane. The car appeared to be similar to the one 62-year-old Gail Knisley was riding in when she was fatally shot on Nov. 25.

A red laser shone between the driver’s side door and agents working along the opposite side of the highway. The car stopped often and occasionally reversed as investigators with flashlights searched wooded areas and brush along the road.

Officials said the measurements were concentrated on a four-mile stretch of road, but 23 miles of highway were closed between the two places where Interstate 70 intersects with the outerbelt of Interstate 270. Franklin County Chief Deputy Steve Martin would not say whether authorities also used the time to install security cameras.

Also Saturday, 40 investigators went door-to-door to talk to residents near a school that was the site of one of the shootings, Martin said. He would not say what investigators learned.

``Investigators are interested in that particular neighborhood because the school is off the I-270 area where most of the linked shootings occurred,″ he said. ``We continue to believe that the person or persons involved in the shooting incidents may live, work or are comfortable in the particular area where these shootings took place.″

The closure was longer than the area investigators are targeting because it was easier to divert traffic to the major routes than surface roads, said Michelle May, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.

The shootings around a seven-mile stretch of I-270 began in May but have happened mainly in the past two months. Authorities say they have gotten more than 1,000 tips from the public.

The two latest shootings were the first since three on Nov. 25, when Knisley was killed. On Nov. 30, a woman heard a thud as she drove on Interstate 270 and noticed a bullet hole when she got home, Martin said Friday.

In the other shooting, Emma Fader, 56, found a bullet hole in the front of her house about a quarter-mile from the highway and a bullet on her living room floor. Fader made the discovery Monday following a weekend away, she said.

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