The arrest of a suspect in a string of metro-area highway shooting incidents, including one in Lee’s Summit, was the result of good old fashioned police work, tips from the public, the use of technology and an overall collaborative effort of local and federal law enforcement officials working with the public to solve the crimes.
Suspect Mohammed Whitaker, 27, of Grandview, was arrested April 17 and charged the next day in Jackson County Circuit Court with 18 felony counts related to 12 shooting incidents between March 18 and April 6 including seven counts of unlawful use of a weapon, a Class B felony; two counts of unlawful use of a weapon that resulted in injury, a Class A felony; and nine counts of armed criminal action.
According to court records, the 12 incidents occurred on Kansas City area highways, including a March 18 incident on Interstate 470/Missouri 291 in Lee’s Summit. Ballistics tests connected .380 caliber bullets recovered from those shooting incidents. Witness reports of the shooting incidents linked a vehicle similar to Whitaker’s to those shootings as well and a license plate reader database would also link Whitaker to the Dodge Neon police suspected he used in the attacks.
Subsequent surveillance of Whitaker before his arrest in his vehicle found him pacing cars in their blind spots while on the highway, court records indicate.
In the Lee’s Summit incident, the victim – described as Victim No. 2 in the case – stated that he was driving south on I-470 near the split with M-291 when he heard and felt something strike his vehicle close to 8:40 p.m. The victim pulled over and found an apparent bullet hole in the rear passenger side door. The spent .380 caliber bullet was recovered and later linked to other similar shootings in the metropolitan area.
According to court documents, Whitaker shot and wounded two motorists and shot at seven other motorists in Kansas City, Lee’s Summit and Blue Springs between March 18 and April 6.
Police began trailing Whitaker April 11 after he became the prime suspect three days prior. According to charging documents, police saw Whitaker driving aggressively and stalking potential victims by pacing cars in their blind spots on highways. Records also stated that Whitaker even braked rapidly to allow another motorist to pull up alongside. Whitaker then turned to face the motorist, not knowing he was an undercover officer, records stated.
Undercover officers also watched as Whitaker met with a man to buy a handgun with a laser sight in the parking lot of Bass Pro Shops in Independence on April 11. The sale fell through because Whitaker refused to provide identification to the seller, court records indicate.
Police arrested Whitaker April 17 during a search of his Grandview apartment. Evidence presented in court documents against Whitaker included tips from the public, fingerprints on an ammunition box and shopping bag and a spent .380 bullet from a former neighbor’s house in Kansas City.
He was arraigned April 18 and sits in jail on $1 million-dollar cash only bail.
Investigators from the Lee’s Summit Police Department helped Kansas City Police and agents from the ATF develop leads in the case.