Investigators: Tips, technology key to catching Ohio freeway shooter

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MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

The search for the Interstate 10 shooter is being watched by some law enforcement members nearly 2,000 miles away. In 2003 and 2004, authorities in Columbus, Ohio were dealing with the I-270 freeway shooter.

"We had 5,082 leads come in," Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott said. "I was the lead detective, which pretty much means I looked over all the leads."

Scott said those leads were distributed among 10 agencies, and it was the Columbus Police Department that followed up on a tip that ultimately led to their suspect. A family member of Charles McCoy Jr. suggested cops check him out so they went to his father's home and requested the son's guns so they could be tested.

"Charles kind of went into a panic mode and said, 'Yeah, I got nothing to hide,'" Scott told us. "His dad turned over the guns and Charles McCoy Jr. emptied his bank account and headed to Vegas because he knew at some point the ballistics were gonna match, and they did."

Another tip quickly led them to Las Vegas where they arrested McCoy. 

Like Arizona authorities, Ohio law enforcement shared information with the public, but they also withheld information to help prioritize their leads. For example, Scott says they didn't publicly reveal that a 9 mm had been linked to the death of a 62-year-old woman.

"When we got a 9mm call, we knew we had to pay attention, " he said, "I could give you a list of crazy stuff going on and we thought, 'Man, this is gonna be good,' and it turns out it's not. You know it's up and down."

Scott said the shooter started firing at homes at one point, so they set up cameras.

"Unfortunately, the news found out where the cameras were," he recalled. "it got publicity, and he started spreading out to four different counties or three different counties."

Scott said they had narrowed down an area where they thought McCoy lived "where shots were radiating out like a spoke wheel." It turned out to be about a mile from his home.

McCoy was convicted and sentenced to 27 years in prison.

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