By L.L. Brasier, Detroit Free Press
Detroit-- A shooter who authorities say is randomly targeting people in southern Michigan including drivers on busy roadways has residents on edge and police scrambling to form a task force to catch the person before someone is killed or injured.
At least 15 shootings in Oakland, Livingston and Ingham counties between Tuesday and Thursday are believed to be connected.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said police have not found a pattern.
"It's only been under the last 24 hours that it became clear the scope of this thing," Bouchard said at a news conference Friday. "We're taking this extremely serious for a lot of reasons."
Police are looking for a dark, older model Chevrolet Cavalier or Ford Mustang.
The shootings started in Wixom, just west of Detroit, at about 7pm Tuesday and then moved west through Livingston and Ingham counties along Interstate 96.
No one has been injured, but police described several "very close calls," including a man in Wixom who was almost shot while taking his trash out. In another incident, a bullet lodged in a car as a motorist was driving.
At least 15, and possibly 16, incidents have been reported during that time, with the most recent at 6:40pm Thursday.
Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte said the incident there occurred around 2:40 p.m. Thursday as a 24-year-old Genesee County man was traveling westbound on I-96 . Bezotte said the man's vehicle was struck in the rear driver's side door by "a projectile" that authorities believe came from a semi-automatic handgun.
In Ingham County, five cars were shot at -- and one struck -- around 6:30 p.m. Thursday, according to the county Sheriff's Office.
Witnesses said the gunman was shooting as he was driving, Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth said.
The crimes have residents on edge.
"You can't have somebody out there taking potshots at people," said Ed Sienkiewicz, who sits on the Village Council of Wolverine Lake, which borders Wixom.
"This has to stop, or we're going to see a fatality," he said. "Either we've all been very lucky because he's not a very good shot, or he is intentionally trying not to hit somebody, but we've got to take him off the streets."
Officials said the Oakland County crime lab is analyzing ballistics evidence.
Bouchard said sheriff's deputies in all three counties, along with two Michigan State Police posts, are working overtime on the case. Investigators also are using helicopter surveillance to try to spot trouble from the sky.
Bouchard said people should be vigilant but not panic. "What we're asking for is a much higher awareness," he said.
Bouchard said he fears the shootings could escalate into the kind of crime spree that terrorized Washington, D.C., and its Virginia and Maryland suburbs in October 2002. During a three-week span, 10 residents were killed and three were seriously injured in random sniper shootings. Two men were eventually arrested and convicted.
Bouchard, though, stopped short of calling the current shooter a sniper, noting the term implies a skilled gunman.
Detroit Free Press