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Volunteer Jessie Seles organizes campaign literature at the campaign headquarters for President Barack Obama in Detroit, Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, the day before elections. (AP Photo/The Detroit News, David Guralnick)
Authorities: Suspect arrested in Mich. shootings

First Published Nov 06 2012 05:13 pm • Last Updated Nov 06 2012 05:13 pm

Wixom, Mich. • Police who arrested a suspect in a Michigan shooting spree that targeted moving cars and resulted in at least once injury were led to the man’s home based on one of thousands of tips, authorities said Tuesday.

The suspect was taken into custody Monday night in Wixom, the Detroit suburb where the shootings began, a police task force investigating the four-county spree said.

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"Why did he do it? I don’t know. I don’t know if we’ll ever know," said Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth, who called the attacks "domestic terrorism."

He said a tip — one of close to 3,000 that have come in — led authorities to the man’s home. He declined to disclose what the suspect told investigators.

The task force said in a written statement that the man drove a vehicle that matched the description of the suspect’s car provided by a shooting victim. Authorities also seized potential evidence at his home, the task force said.

At least one gun was seized, said Donald Dawkins, Detroit spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The man had not been charged by Tuesday afternoon, and it was not clear when charges might be filed. Local and federal authorities were discussing whether the case should be pursued in state court or federal court. Wriggelsworth said he wanted federal prosecutors to take the case.

A man who answered the door Tuesday at the home where police discovered the suspect declined to comment and told an Associated Press reporter to leave. Loon Lake Elementary School is a quarter-mile away from that home.

The shootings began Oct. 16 and stretched from Oakland County west to Ingham County. The targets in the 24 reported incidents were mostly cars traveling on roads near Interstate 96. Only a handful of shootings actually occurred on the interstate.

Janice Schumacher, 43, was pumping gas in Wixom when she heard that a suspect was in custody.

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"I hope this is the guy," said the Commerce Township resident who for the past several weeks has been using alternate routes to run personal errands and shuttle her three children to and from school. "For weeks, I haven’t been able to breathe while driving with my kids in the car. If they finally got this guy, that would be a major relief."

Before the arrest, clues appeared to be few: slugs and bullet fragments embedded in cars, metal casings on roadways, a simple black-and-white sketch of the shooter — a man believed to be in his late 20s or early 30s — and vague descriptions of the dark car he drove.

The crime scene where the shootings took place is 100 miles long and slices through suburbia, shopping malls and farm pastures. Shootings have occurred during the day, at night, on weekdays and on weekends. Police say the shooter would drive along roadways and fire at vehicles traveling in the opposite direction. Only one person was wounded.

Initial reports of shootings stirred panic. Wixom schools restricted recess and other activities that would take students outdoors. Drivers avoided main thoroughfares where they might be exposed and stuck to side streets.

But police have been working hard to maintain calm. In Wixom — where 10 shootings have been reported — police had special Halloween patrols to protect trick-or-treaters. From Oakland County, northwest of Detroit, to Shiawassee County, northeast of Lansing, authorities stopped cars resembling the shooter’s vehicle. A $102,000 reward was offered.

"I’ve always felt safe here. But this has been very shocking," said Karen Adams, 51, who lives one street away from the suspect.

When state troopers flooded the area Monday night, she figured it was related to the investigation. Adams stopped her daily walks while the shootings were unsolved.

"There’s lots of angry people out there," she said.


Associated Press reporters Ed White in Detroit and David Aguilar in Wixom contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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