07/26/2006

Authorities: Teen confesses to highway sniper attacks in Ind.

By CHARLES WILSON
Associated Press Writer

SEYMOUR, Ind.- A 17-year-old confessed Tuesday to committing a series of highway shootings that killed one man, wounded another and damaged at least four vehicles, authorities said.

Zachariah Blanton was arrested earlier in the day and was jailed in Jackson County. He faced preliminary charges of murder, attempted murder and criminal recklessness, prosecutor Stephen Pierson said.

Blanton, of Gaston, admitted to the sniper shootings during questioning by investigators, but a motive was unclear, State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell said. It was not immediately known whether Blanton had an attorney.

Blanton came to the attention of investigators late Monday after an acquaintance told a Delaware County deputy that the teen might be involved in the shootings, Whitesell said. Detectives then searched Blanton's home and found a rifle of the same caliber used in the shootings.

"The weapon we obtained was precisely what we were looking for," Whitesell said.

A message seeking comment was left for Blanton's grandparents, who police said where his legal guardians.

Blanton's great-aunt told The Star Press of Muncie that she was shocked by the allegations against him. "I can't imagine that he would be involved," Denise Blanton said.

The two sniper victims were hit early Sunday as they rode in pickup trucks on Interstate 65 near Seymour, south of Indianapolis.

About two hours later, bullets struck a moving tractor-trailer and a parked sport-utility vehicle on I-69 in Delaware County, about 100 miles to the northeast near Blanton's home. No one was hurt in those shootings.

The FBI joined the investigation Monday as investigators searched fields, overpasses and roads looking for evidence. Detectives from Columbus, Ohio, who helped solve that city's 2003 and 2004 sniper shootings also traveled to Indiana to help.

Gov. Mitch Daniels praised law enforcement officers Tuesday for quickly apprehending a suspect.

"Indiana has been spared the sort of fear, uncertainty and disruption and that has befallen other jurisdictions elsewhere," he said during a news conference in Indianapolis.

Associated PressCopyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Back to previous page