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One dead as sniper hits trucks on Indiana highway

Police ask motorists to look for damage

SEYMOUR, Ind. -- Sniper attacks targeted two pickup trucks early yesterday on a busy highway, killing one person and wounding a second, and police asked other motorists who had been through the area to check their vehicles for bullet holes.

Hours later, two more vehicles were struck by bullets on another four-lane highway about 100 miles away, but there was no immediate indication whether the two cases were connected, police said.

One shot struck a southbound pickup on Interstate 65 shortly after midnight, killing one of its two passengers, police said. At about the same time, a bullet grazed the head of a passenger in another southbound pickup on the same highway.

A preliminary investigation could not distinguish whether the shots came from along the road or from an overpass in the area about 50 miles south of Indianapolis.

``We need to find out how many weapons were involved. We need to find out how many people are involved," State Police Sergeant Jerry Goodin said.

Governor Mitch Daniels ordered the Indiana National Guard to be placed on standby to help with the investigation if needed.

One pickup had a bullet hole near the top of the windshield on the passenger side. The second had a bullet hole in the middle of the windshield and a rear window was blown out.

About two hours later, bullets struck a tractor-trailer rig on Interstate 69 near Muncie, about 50 miles northeast of Indianapolis, State Police said. Later, a parked, unattended SUV was struck at a service station in the same area. No one was injured. Police said both vehicles were struck multiple times but would not say where.

Police closed a 14-mile stretch of I-65 for eight hours after the Seymour shootings. The highway is part of the only direct route between Chicago and Florida and is heavily traveled at all hours, Goodin said.

Goodin asked motorists who had been through the Seymour area during the past week to check their vehicles for bullet holes.

Investigators also asked law enforcement agencies nationwide whether there have been similar shootings, Goodin said.

Police identified the man who was killed as Jerry L. Ross, 40, of New Albany.

The driver of the second pickup, Brandon Bonnesen of Anita, Iowa, said he and Robert John Otto Hartl, 25, of Audubon, Iowa, were driving to Florida for construction work when he heard a loud noise.

``I cussed a little bit and looked at my friend. He was all bent over and I said `You all right?' He said `I'm OK, keep going,' " Bonnesen said.

The bullet had grazed Hartl's head near his left ear, police said. He was treated at a local hospital and released.

In late 2003 and early 2004, a sniper in the Columbus, Ohio, area killed one person in a series of random highway shootings. Charles McCoy Jr., arrested in March 2004, was sentenced to 27 years in prison after pleading guilty.

In Kansas City, Mo., gunfire erupted early yesterday outside a Knights of Columbus hall where a party had attracted hundreds of young people, killing two men and wounding at least 10 other people, police said.

An officer handling a traffic accident heard several gunshots around 1 a.m. from near the Catholic fraternal lodge, which is behind a commercial strip on a busy street in south Kansas City. The hall had been rented out, though police didn't know by whom.

When police arrived, they witnessed ``people running in all different directions," Sergeant Doug Niemeier said.

After the people and vehicles cleared the area, a 20-year-old man was found dead in a parking lot next to the hall. A second man, also 20, died later at a hospital, police said.

Niemeier said at least two other people were critically wounded -- a 17-year-old shot in the chest and a 24-year-old shot in the neck -- and at least eight others were also injured.

Police yesterday were trying to determine how many were wounded. Some victims were taken to hospitals by ambulance, but others went in private vehicles.

Investigators did not know what prompted the gunfire. No arrests were made yesterday, and the victims' names were not immediately released.

Crowds of young people filled two parking lots near the hall by 10:30 p.m. Saturday, with people milling around and leaning against cars, said Dan Blevins, 58, who was nearby at D'Angelo's Lounge. The bartender at D'Angelo's called police, who arrived around 11 p.m. and left a short time later, he said.

Then, around 1 a.m., ``We see people diving to the ground, and it sounds like firecrackers," Blevins said. The bartender locked the door, and they watched as emergency vehicles arrived and people were carried away on stretchers.

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