April 18, 2014 -- The man suspected of shooting at cars as they traveled on Kansas City, Mo., highways in recent weeks has been identified and charged with 18 felonies, authorities announced today.
Mohammad Whitaker, 27, is accused of shooting into at least nine cars, injuring two of the drivers, in incidents dating to the beginning of March.
Kansas City prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said at a press conference today that police first realized there might be a serial shooter on the loose on April 7 when an analyst with the police department pointed it out. The department quickly mobilized an investigation involving other area police departments, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
According to the charging documents, multiple victims told police that a man dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood pulled up and in some accounts wearing a black ski mask, would pull up alongside their cars in a green sedan and slow down. Multiple drivers then heard loud "pops" before realizing that their cars had been shot.
On April 9, a witness who was aware of the reports of the highway shooter saw a green vehicle driven by a man in a mask and hoodie acting suspiciously while driving very slowly. She reported the vehicle's license plate number to police. Police were able to trace the address to a home where Whitaker allegedly hung out.
On the same day, another person called police to say he had found a Walmart shopping bag filled with empty boxes of bullets on the side of a road in Kansas City. Police said officers found Whitaker's fingerprints on the Walmart bag.
Police then surveilled Whitaker for another week, watching him as he tried to purchase a handgun, purchased ammunition, and drove erratically and suspiciously near other vehicles on area roads, according to the charging documents released by the prosecutor.
Police executed search warrants on his home and car and said they found ammunition and guns.
Police arrested Whitaker Thursday night in Grandview, Mo., using SWAT teams to surround his house before taking him into custody.
Whitaker is charged with two class A felonies for shooting and injuring someone in a car, seven class B felonies for shooting into cars, and nine charges of armed criminal action. He is being held on $1 million cash bond.
Baker said she is confident that Whitaker is the only person responsible for the shootings that set Kansas City drivers' nerves on edge.
"Residents are safe...we have a person in custody," Police Chief Darryl Forté said after the arrest.