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, State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell said.
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.
Pierson said state police had recovered a rifle they believed was used in the shootings. 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 on 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.