Kansas City Star/MCT/Landov
At first, the driver didn't know he'd been hit by gunshot. He told police he heard two bangs Sunday night while traveling near Interstates 435 and 470 in Kansas City, and thought maybe he'd run over something.
Then he touched his leg to soothe what he believed was a sudden cramp, and saw blood – the latest victim in what Kansas City-area officials see as a possibly linked series of at least 13 roadway shootings over the past month.
Now, authorities are advising drivers to be vigilant, and asking federal agents for help. "The information we have right now is so random," police spokesman Capt. Tye Grant tells The Kansas City Star
. "There is nothing consistent for us to provide anyone at this time."
But the geographic proximity and similarity of the incidents has raised alarm. Three drivers have been injured – two in the leg, one in the arm – in shootings since March 8, when a bullet struck a car near the same highway intersection as Sunday's shooting. Eleven of the 13 incidents occurred on highways. Ten were in Kansas City, with three in neighboring communities.
Starting last Wednesday, they have been occurring at least once a day.
In the possible pattern, drivers report their vehicles have been struck near exit ramps or road splits. Police say they suspect the use of a handgun, and have recovered spent bullets from at least six vehicles, most stuck in the door panels.
In reports released Monday, one victim recalled seeing a driver alongside him who was wearing a ski mask, glasses and a hood. In another, a woman described following a car that ended up next to hers; when she pulled ahead, she heard a popping noise that sounded like a car backfiring. She later noticed a bullet hole in the window next to where her 3-year-old daughter had been sitting.
"I suspect we will get more reports after this is publicized," Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forte tells The Kansas City Star
. "This is not normal. Everyone should be vigilant and report any suspicious activity."