Man, 27, faces 18 felony counts for highway shooting spree - CBS 5 - KPHO

Man, 27, faces 18 felony counts for highway shooting spree

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Mohammed Whitaker, age 27. (Courtesy: Kansas City Star) Mohammed Whitaker, age 27. (Courtesy: Kansas City Star)
Mohammed Whitaker, 27, faces two A felonies, 7 B felony charges, 9 separate counts of armed criminal action. Mohammed Whitaker, 27, faces two A felonies, 7 B felony charges, 9 separate counts of armed criminal action.
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker announced Friday that 27-year-old Mohammed P. Whitaker has been charged as a criminal defendant with 18 felonies.

Whitaker is charged with 18 felonies stemming from nine separate incidents that occurred throughout the metro area. Of the 18 felony charges, two are A felonies for shooting into a vehicle and striking someone, and seven are B felonies for shooting into a motor vehicle. He also faces nine separate counts of armed criminal action.

Baker and Police Chief Darryl Forte were among those appearing at the news conference at the city's emergency operations center. Also in attendance were former Mayor Pro Tem Alvin Brooks, who is on the police commission board, City Councilman Jermaine Reed, Kansas City, MO, Mayor Sly James, officials from Blue Springs, Leawood and Grandview's police departments as well as FBI agents.

"Today I had the opportunity to speak with one of the victims in this case and he really put this in the right framework for me. I told him, ‘Today is such a good day. I'm so pleased to be able to announce charges against a defendant for these horrible acts.' But he reminded me that not only is today a good day, but the day he got shot was a good day. He reminded me that that bullet that struck him when he was driving down the highway did not hit bone, it did not hit a major artery and he's able to heal and move on with life and come in a courtroom and testify," Baker said.

Friday's news conference finalized charges against the man who was arrested at his Grandview home Thursday evening.

According to court documents, Whitaker may have used two different addresses to hide his weapons that investigators believe he allegedly used to shoot cars near the Grandview Triangle, also known as Three Trails Crossing.

One address is a home at 136th and Spring streets in Grandview, MO.

The other is a home on Indiana Street near Bridge Manor Drive in Kansas City. Neighbors say the person living in the duplex was a renter who kept a low profile and didn't live there very long, only about three months tops.

One neighbor said ATF agents were all over the house Thursday night.

"I periodically looked out the window and hell, they had like eight cars here. Each ATF agent had his own vehicle," said neighbor Dale Muell.

Muell said the agents stayed on the scene from about 6 p.m. to well after 11 p.m.

Neighbors say Indiana Street is pretty quiet so to see lot of federal agents surrounding the house was a bit of a surprise.

Whitaker's Facebook page says he was born in Moberly, MO, and works for United Health Group. The company says he is on administrative leave and has no access to their building.

Forte announced Thursday night that police had arrested the man later identified as Whitaker.

"We wanted to make sure the residents and those that travel through Kansas City know that they're safe," he said.

This came after motorists had been on edge after police reported 12 highway shootings since early March were connected. Half of them were in the area of the Three Trails Crossing, which was previously known as Grandview Triangle where Interstate 435, 470 and U.S. 71/I-49 come together.

Sources tell KCTV5 investigators recovered a significant amount of evidence including shell casings near 103rd Street and Grandview Road after a person searching for their cell phone found a Walmart bag full of them. KCTV5 saw investigators spend a couple of days in that area.

The evidence there, the most significant being prints connected to Whitaker, helped investigators identify him as a possible suspect. Sources tell KCTV5 that police had their eyes on Whitaker for several days, possibly even a week. A week ago Forte announced he was confident authorities would catch the shooter.

On Thursday evening police swarmed the suspect's home at 136th and Spring streets in Grandview, MO, a suburb south of the city that is home to Three Trails Crossing,

Police executed a search warrant at the four-plex where Whitaker lives. They also towed away a green Dodge Neon with an Illinois license plate. The green Neon had been spotted by many shooting victims.

KCTV5 Investigative Reporter Eric Chaloux spoke Thursday night with a man named Edward Whitaker, who lives in Southern Illinois, by phone. According to the Illinois Secretary of State's Office, the license plates on the vehicle towed away from the scene belong to an Edward Whitaker. At the time, he spoke with Chaloux, he didn't know why or how his plates turned up on a Dodge Neon and said they should have been on a four-door Buick.

Edward Whitaker told Chaloux he was immediately going to call his sons to ask more about it.

He also stated he didn't know of any relatives that would be living in the Kansas City area.

Since that brief conversation Thursday, Edward Whitaker hasn't answered KCTV5's phone calls. It's unclear Edward Whitaker's possible connection to the individual with the same last name who has been charged in the case.

Police announced last week that they have positively linked 12 shooting incidents that have taken place on roadways in Kansas City, MO, Blue Springs, Lee's Summit and Leawood. The first reported shootings occurred the night of March 8.

Three people have been hit with bullets, but their injuries weren't serious.

No new shooting incidents have taken place since April 6.

Investigators had refrained from releasing any suspect or suspect vehicle information because they said they did not want to provide misinformation, nor did they want the public to focus too closely on a specific type of vehicle or person. Investigators did not want to rule out any possibilities.

Officers continued to provide an increased presence in the areas of the shootings but have always reminded motorists to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity by calling 911.

Baker can only charge Mohammed Whitaker for crimes that occurred in Jackson County. She cannot charge for crimes committed in other counties or in Kansas.

Whitaker's bond was set at $1 million cash only.

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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