Las Vegas Police Nab Ohio Sniper Suspect
KEN RITTER, Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS - The man suspected in two dozen sniper shootings that have terrorized Ohio motorists was arrested at a Las Vegas motel early Wednesday, authorities said.
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.
"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 a handwritten note the man left behind. He said he could not make out the writing, other than that the sentences began with "You."
FBI (news - web sites) 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-including the one that killed Knisley-were fired from the same gun.
Authorities haven't said what evidence led them to McCoy. Newspaper and television reports Tuesday said McCoy's family gave investigators at least one of his guns.
Edward Cable of Lucasville, whose minivan was hit by a bullet as he was driving on Nov. 21, said Wednesday he was glad to see McCoy was picked up.
"Not so much for myself, but for anybody else whose worried about getting him off the street," Cable said. "I haven't talked to my daughters yet, but my wife was pretty happy he was picked up."
An arrest warrant charges McCoy with felonious assault in a shooting with a 9 mm handgun that damaged a house Dec. 15.
The description of the car and McCoy were similar to what witnesses told investigators they saw in the three most recent shootings.
Until January, the gunfire was scattered along or near Interstate 270, the busy highway that encircles Columbus. The last four shootings had moved toward the southwest on I-71.
In a missing person's report filed Monday, McCoy's mother, Ardith, said her son was upset over a possible move. She said he withdrew $600 from a bank account and left home Friday for a restaurant and bar that features video games at a nearby mall.
A check of court records in Franklin and nearby Delaware and Fairfield counties turned up a handful of traffic tickets for McCoy, but no other criminal or civil charges.
Neighbors on McCoy's street said they didn't know much about the suspect or his mother. The McCoys moved there about a year ago, did some repairs and put the house back up for sale.
The tan garage doors at the house were splattered with three eggs Tuesday. Police said they did not know who hurled the eggs or when they were thrown.
McCoy's high school football coach said he's praying for his former player.
"He was an ornery kid, but a lot of kids are ornery at that age," said Brian Cross, who coached McCoy for four years at Grove City High School. "I don't remember him doing anything extreme."
Mar 17, '04
Glad they got him.
I hope we don't have to hear the old insanity thing.
Mar 18, '04
Hallelujah!!!! My sister lives in Hilliard, and I would worry so much about her and her family. Now I feel better!!!
Mar 28, '04
I am so glad they caught this "terrorist"!
He will probably use the insanity plea although I hope he doesn't.
Anyone would HAVE to be insane to do what he did!
Now, Columbus has a serial arsonist...........
Are people REALLY that stupid????????????