Pupils at an US school were confined to their classrooms today amid fears that a new sniper is on the loose.
In an echo of last year’s Washington sniper case, one woman has been killed and several others targeted by a gunman.
In all, 12 shootings – including the targeting of the Hamilton Central Elementary school in Columbus, Ohio – have been linked to one weapon, police have confirmed.
Pupils at the school were led to classes under the watchful eye of police officers today.
During break times the children were kept inside, in the fear that the gunman could return.
Parent Michelle Maupin drove her daughter to school rather than sending her on the bus, as usual.
“We didn’t put her on the bus because we felt it was too big a target for whoever is doing this,” she said.
So far, the gunman has claimed only one life.
Gail Knisley, 62, was killed when a bullet ripped through the door of the car she was in as she travelled on interstate 270 last week.
Soon after her killing 10 other motorists contacted police to say they believed they too had been shot at on the road.
One of the people who called police was a woman whose tyre went flat as she drove along the road.
When she took it to a garage for repair she was told a bullet had done the damage.
Franklin County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Steve Martin said: “We actually have 12 (shootings) now with the school, and we’re comfortable collectively that those 12 are linked.”
He said there had been more than 500 tips from the public, but refused to elaborate on the suspect or type of weapon.
“We think it’s not good for us to put that information out. We don’t want people to stop calling us because we put out that kind of information,” Mr Martin said.
A reward of €9,300 is being offered by local businesses for information leading to an arrest.
Tiffany Ellis, 32, who also has a son at Hamilton Central Elementary said: “It makes me angry to be honest with you, that I have to drive down the road worrying about getting shot,”
The mystery comes days after Washington sniper John Allen Muhammad was recommended for the death penalty by a jury.
The 42-year-old Army veteran was convicted after being tried for one of the 10 killings which terrorised the Washington area last Autumn.
His alleged accomplice, Lee Boyd Malvo, is still on trial over the three-week long killing spree.