Police Search for Va. Highway Gunmen

Authorities searching for two suspects after overnight shootings on Va. highway.


March 27, 2008— -- Authorities in Virginia are looking for at least two suspects in a series of shootings along Interstate 64 that left two people wounded and at least six cars with bullet holes.

Sgt. Dave Cooper of the Virginia State Police said that the vehicles were hit by gunfire in three locations along I-64 in Virginia early Thursday morning.

Witnesses' accounts lead authorities to believe that two people were involved in the shootings, but authorities do not have information identifying the suspects or their vehicles.

According to police, two drivers sustained non-life threatening injuries and were treated and released at area hospitals. Police said it was not clear if the injuries were caused directly by the gunfire, or from broken glass and fragments caused by the shots.

The first reports of gunfire came in at 12:10 a.m., after a westbound vehicle was reportedly struck by gunfire from an overpass near the 106 mile marker. At least three vehicles were reported to have been struck by bullets while traveling west near that location.

Additional calls rolled in about shots fired along the highway, including one incidence of gunfire near the on ramp at Exit 114.

State police closed the intestate to traffic minutes later, Cooper said. A 20-mile stretch of the highway remained closed until shortly after 6 a.m. Thursday.

In total, two cars, a van and a tractor-trailer were hit on the highway; an unoccupied Virginia Department of Transportation dump truck was also struck. That vehicle was parked near the Yancey Mills exit of I-64.

Authorities said Thursday afternoon they are investigating a report of a sixth vehicle affected by the spree.

Police are not releasing information on the type of gun believed to have been used, but sources tell ABC News a rifle was involved in the shootings and that the shots appeared to be targeting passengers, not just the body of the vehicles.

Shell casings recovered at the scenes indicate that all of the shootings might be connected. State police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are working together to examine them.

"The concern always is in these cases is 'is it going to continue?' Because if you don't know who the person is, you don't know their motivation, then could they come back out tonight and start all over again," ABC News consultant and former FBI Agent Brad Garrett told ABC News.

"The key is to gather as much information as you can in a short period of time and hopefully figure out who's committing this act before it occurs again," said Garrett, who worked on the 2002 Washington, D.C.-area sniper case.

The area affected is near Charlottesville, Va., approximately two-and-a-half hours outside Washington, D.C.

In October 2002, snipers killed 10 people and wounded three in the Maryland-Virginia-Washington metropolitan area.

Juries convicted John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo for those sniper attacks. Both men are behind bars in Virginia; Muhammed is on death row and Malvo is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

As for Thursday's incidents, "State and local police are taking the necessary steps to make the immediate area and I-64 corridor safer for motorists and local residents," Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Steven Flaherty said in a statement.

"As investigators pursue the suspects involved in these incidents, motorists are advised to be vigilant and alert when traveling through the Albemarle County and Charlottesville area of I-64 and to report any suspicious activity to local or state police."

Police say investigators were chasing more than 50 leads Thursday; they ask anyone with information to contact the Virginia State Police at (434) 293-3223 or the Albemarle-Charlottesville CrimeStoppers Tip Line at (434) 977-4000.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events