GROVE CITY, Ohio – For the first time in months, motorists driving around Columbus' outer suburbs aren't scrutinizing every overpass and checking their rearview mirror for a possible sniper.
The man suspected in a string of shootings on highways in the Columbus area was arrested Wednesday in Las Vegas, and local residents said they felt free for the first time in months.
"I know a lot of people who didn't travel the outer belt. When you are out there and you are alone, you get scared," said Kristen Roasa, 21, who stopped for gas Wednesday morning about 1 mile south of I-270.
The 24 shootings created a wave of fear around the interstate and two nearby highways.
Shots were fired day and night, sometimes from overpasses. They struck cars, delivery trucks, a horse trailer, tractor-trailers, houses and an elementary school. The shootings began in May but intensified in the fall.
Parents drove their children to school instead of putting them on the bus. Commuters changed routes. Restaurants and other businesses blamed the shootings for keeping customers away.
The only person struck, Gail Knisley (search), 62, was killed as a friend drove her to a doctor's appointment Nov. 25.
Authorities on Wednesday captured Charles A. McCoy Jr. (search), 28, at a motel in Las Vegas two days after he was identified as a suspect. He was held without bail and was scheduled to appear in court Friday. He could be extradited to Ohio as soon as the weekend, officials said.
"I'm so very glad it's over," said motorist Jack Ward. "I spent 23 years as a military policeman and I'm always aware of my surroundings. In a word, I'm vigilant."
Around the corner from an elementary school where a window was shattered by a bullet Nov. 11, residents were comforted by news of the arrest.
Debbie Hackett, whose house overlooks hundreds of acres of farm fields, said she was constantly on her guard. "We were always looking — across the fields, everywhere," she said.
Jan Porter, 56, whose tire was shot out on U.S. 23, said he was relieved a suspect had been arrested without bloodshed.
"I was just in fear for other people getting hurt. ... I knew eventually he would caught one way or another," Porter said.