Michigan drivers tense as task force tracks elusive highway shooter
DETROIT — Clues appear to be few: slugs and bullet fragments embedded in cars, metal casings on roadways, a simple black and white sketch of the shooter and vague descriptions of the car he drove.
Investigators searching for a man responsible for shooting at two dozen vehicles along freeway corridors in four counties are up against anonymity and a 100-mile-long crime scene that slices through suburbia, shopping malls and Michigan farm pastures.
Fear has prompted some to drive along side streets rather than heavily used thoroughfares. In Wixom — where 10 of the 24 shootings have been reported — police planned special Halloween patrols to protect trick-or-treaters. From Oakland County, northwest of Detroit, to Shiawassee County, northeast of Lansing, authorities are stopping cars resembling the shooter's.
Even reports of something slamming against a windshield or two drivers involved in a spat initially have been considered as developments in a case that now involves more than 100 local officers, state troopers, sheriff's deputies and federal agents.
“I hope they catch him. Me and the other drivers are a little worried,” said Frank Bommarito who chugs along part of the Interstate 96 corridor daily while hauling produce. “They haven't shot at any truck drivers yet, but there's always that chance. I don't know if it's a guy in a car or some guy sitting out in the weeds or bushes, but it makes us pretty nervous every day.”
The shootings started Oct. 16 in Wixom, a blue-collar community about 25 miles northwest of Detroit. The shooter hasn't kept still, hitting vehicles along I-96 and connecting roads in Livingston, Ingham and Shiawassee counties. Shootings have occurred during the day, at night, on weekdays and on weekends.
Only three of the shootings have been on the busy freeway.
“It's almost like we're chasing a ghost,” said Gene Wriggelsworth, Ingham County sheriff. “It's not easy or we'd have him. We don't have a license plate or a name to work on. And the description we have is from a person who was shot at at night.”