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FBI joins probe of Indiana shootings

/ Source: The Associated Press

— Investigators working to find whoever fired the sniper shots along two Indiana highways that killed one person and wounded another are hoping for the same assistance from the public that helped Ohio authorities end a string of similar shootings two years ago.

The FBI joined the investigation Monday, and authorities turned over bullets and other forensic evidence to the Indiana State Police crime lab to determine how many and what type of weapons were used in Sunday’s shootings 100 miles apart.

State police also alerted agencies in southern and northeastern Indiana after receiving tips that more shootings could occur there. Those tips were among about 50 that were made to a hot line established for information about Sunday’s shootings, said 1st Sgt. Dave Bursten of the state police.

Investigators did not know how valid the tips might be, but Bursten likened them to bomb threats that must be taken seriously even if they turn out to be unfounded. The tip line number is 1-800-622-4962.

Jerry Ross, 40, of New Albany was killed when two pickup trucks were targeted about 12:20 a.m. Sunday on Interstate 65 near Seymour, 50 miles south of Indianapolis. Robert John Otto Hartl, 25, of Audubon, Iowa, was injured.

About two hours later, bullets struck a tractor-trailer and a sport-utility vehicle on I-69. No one was hurt in that attack.

Investigators searched fields, overpasses and roads looking for evidence Monday, and Columbus, Ohio, detectives who solved that city’s 2003 and 2004 sniper shootings traveled to Indiana to help.

During the Columbus shootings, state troopers worked with local officers to track down leads that ultimately led to the arrest of Charles McCoy Jr., said a spokesman for the Ohio State Highway Patrol. McCoy was sentenced to 27 years in prison for those attacks, which killed one woman.

Electronic signs along Indiana interstates urged people to come forward with reports of suspicious activity.

Some people who stopped for gas near the I-69 shooting site said they would be on the lookout for anything suspicious.

Trucker Leo Banach was hauling steel bars from the Cleveland area to Texas for Jones Motor Co. and heard about the shootings on his CB radio.

“You can’t be scared,” he said. “It’s just something you’ve got to keep your eyes out for.”