Police: GPS tracking, bizarre behavior, tips led to capture - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Police: GPS tracking, bizarre behavior, tips led to suspect's capture


Court documents detail how new-age technology, old-fashioned police work and observant eyewitnesses led to the capture of the man that authorities say was responsible for a string of highway shootings that terrorized the area.

The police department provided the courts with details of their efforts that led to the capture of Mohammed Whitaker, 27, of Grandview.

The following are details of the investigation as outlined by police in documents filed with the Jackson County Circuit Court.

The probable cause statement said as of Wednesday, a dozen of the assaults in the area were linked together with ballistics of .380-caliber bullets that were recovered as evidence in each of the cases that occurred between March 18 and April 6.

March 18: Two shootings reported. First victim was westbound on I-70 from Highway 7 in Blue Springs, MO, when he was shot in the lower right leg. Second victim was traveling south on I-470 near the split. He contacted Lee's Summit, MO, police.

March 29: Victims three and four contacted Kansas City, MO, police. They said they were driving west on Ward Parkway between Shawnee Mission Parkway and State Line Road about 1 p.m., and were behind a dark turquoise four-door sedan. The suspect's vehicle then got on the woman's left side and she heard a loud pop noise. Suspect vehicle veered off and continued south on State Line Road. Woman saw a bullet hole on her left passenger side where her daughter was sitting. A spent .380-caliber bullet was recovered. The woman said the suspect was wearing a black hoodie.

March 29: A victim contacted Leawood, KS, police after getting shot at near eastbound I-435 at the State Line Road exit ramp about 2 p.m. They reported seeing a suspect wearing black hoodie which was pulled over his head. The suspect also had a black ski mask and dark sunglasses on and was driving a dark metallic green sedan suspect vehicle.

March 31: Another victim reported being shot at to Kansas City, MO, police. The victim said she was headed east on I-470 from Highway 71 at the time.

April 2: The sixth victim reported being shot at while driving on I-470 exiting onto Highway 71 south.

April 4: Three victims reported being shot at, and one of the victims was hit in the lower right arm. First victim said she was going east on I-435/I-470 about 5:30 p.m. The second victim said she was traveling south on Highway 71 around the 85th Street exit about 7:45 p.m. The third victim said he was driving south on I-435 and was taking the Highway 71 south ramp about 8 p.m. His arm was injured.

April 5: One victim reported having their car struck by bullets while he was driving on I-70 just west of the I-35 exit.

April 6: One victim reported being shot at while driving east on I-435 to take the I-470 exit. That person was hit in the left calf.

April 9: Tip came in. The caller said that on March 29 between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. an early to mid-90s green Dodge Neon with Illinois license plates was seen in a restaurant parking lot at Blue Ridge and Holmes in Martin City, MO. The caller said the driver wore a black hoodie with ski mask and entered the restaurant, then left and their actions were very suspicious.

April 9: Another tip came in. The caller said on April 6 they were in the Grandview Triangle, which is now known officially as Three Trails Crossing, when a dark green sedan with Illinois plates and a dent in the rear fender began tailgating the caller. The suspect continued to follow the tipster, varying their speed and pulled up to the driver's side of the caller's vehicle, tailgating all the way to Shawnee Mission Parkway.

April 9: A detective made contact with witnesses who said they saw suspicious activity on March 30. The witnesses said they spotted a turquoise vehicle driving westbound on Red Bridge at an extremely slow speed. As the witness sat at stop sign, the suspect stopped right in front of her and the driver stared at her. The suspect at one point suddenly slammed on their brakes in an apparent attempt to force the witness to pass him. The suspect wore a hoodie despite the 70-degree temperatures. He also wore a cloth mask over his face. The witness got full Illinois license plate number.

Detectives checked their License Plate Reader database for Illinois license plates in the area. The search found the plate. The plate was supposed to be on a white Buick, but detectives also found the same plate was located on a silver Monte Carlo. Both had the same address on Beacon Avenue near East 96th Terrace in Kansas City, MO.

Also located at the same address was a dark green vehicle with front driver's side damage.

While investigating the address on Beacon Avenue, detectives learned of an aggravated assault that happened on October 11 at a home directly behind the one on Beacon Avenue. The victims had heard a loud noise and found a hole in their master bedroom and a spent .380 bullet on the bathroom floor.

Detectives found through their police database that Mohammed Whitaker is a known associate of the home on Beacon.

April 9: Detectives were called to 104th Street and Grandview Road after a witness said he was in the area looking for a lost cellphone when he found a Walmart bag that had .380 spent shell casings in it as well as empty ammunition boxes. The bag and ammunition boxes were processed for prints and prints found on them were linked to Whitaker.

April 10: The License Plate Reader picked up the Illinois license plate at Red Bridge and Holmes and it was on a green four-door compact car, later specified as a Dodge Neon. KCTV5 saw that officers were using license plate readers in this area at this time.

April 11: Investigators started surveillance on the vehicle. During surveillance they positively identified Whitaker as the driver.

During surveillance on same day, investigators with the KCPD, FBI and ATF saw Whitaker pull up into the Bass Pro Shop in Independence and meet with a man. In the parking lot Whitaker was seen looking at a handgun and producing paperwork. No sale was ever made. The other man was contacted by investigators and he told them he refused to sell his gun to Whitaker because Whitaker could not provide him with identification.

Police were able to get a cell phone number for Whitaker because of his exchange with the man about the handgun sale and they used that number to "ping" or locate its whereabouts. The phone "pinged" at an address almost four miles southwest of the address on Beacon, on Indiana Avenue near Bridge Manor Dr.

Surveillance on Whitaker continued and investigators saw him spend a lot of time at the location on Indiana Avenue as well as another one farther south, at 136th and Spring streets in Grandview, MO.

On several different dates surveillance captured Whitaker pull up alongside or follow different drivers, usually changing speed to match theirs. Many times he was seen making sudden and erratic movements on various roadways, even veering over lanes of traffic to cut off other drivers.

April 14: Search warrants were obtained for the home on 136th Street in Grandview. An ATF Special Agent and his explosive detecting K-9 were sent in and the K-9 hit on a dresser in the bedroom. The dresser contained a black bandana, 31 live rounds of .380 caliber ammunition, an empty .380 magazine, a handgun, sunglasses and three black hoodie sweatshirts, among other things.

April 17: Police executed a search warrant for the green Dodge Neon where investigators found an apparent bullet hole in the front passenger door that came from the inside of the vehicle. Financial records for Whitaker also showed he made credit card purchases at a shooting range in Overland Park and .380 100-count ammunition on March 19 at a Walmart at Highway 40.

April 17: Whitaker was arrested and taken to police headquarters for questioning. He waived his Miranda rights and claimed to know very little about the highway shooter, saying he thought it was connected to the three people killed Sunday by the man targeting Jewish people.

While being questioned Whitaker then changed his story and said he was a victim of the highway shooter.

KCTV5's DeAnn Smith contributed to this report.

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