Road Sniper in Indiana? - NBC Chicago

Road Sniper in Indiana?

At least three drivers shot in the last week



    Smith is one of two people who say they were shot while driving in Northwest Indiana late Monday night. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010)

    At least three people have been shot while driving through Northwest Indiana in the last week.

    Two of the incidents happened Monday, when people driving separately in their vehicles miles apart say they were hit in the head and neck as they went about their business.

    Debbie Smith, 53, said she was driving to a Walmart store in Merrilleville, Ind., at about 11 p.m. Monday with her window down when she heard a loud noise and felt something strike the left side of her head.

    "I saw a light and then I heard a real loud noise, and then the ringing in my ears and when I looked down I had blood all over my hands," an emotional Smith said Wednesday.

    She said she saw a black sport utility vehicle in the area at the time, but wasn't clear whether the shot came from that direction, the Northwest Indiana Times reported.

    Bleeding, she drove back to the gate at of her Lakes of the Four Seasons community and was treated by paramedics for a minor cut and swelling on the head.  It wasn't until later, when she drove herself to St. Mary's Hospital, in Hobart, that doctors discovered that a bullet was lodged in her head.

    "This was devastating because the neurosurgeon said maybe a few more centimeters and it would have actually gone into the brain, so who knows what that would have meant," said Smith's husband, Jim.

    She elected not to have surgery, but was transferred and admitted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Ill., where she remained until Wednesday afternoon.

    "My head just hurts horribly. I can't imagine anybody being so evil," she said.

    A 39-year-old Crown Point man reported to police that he was shot with a pellet near the Boone Grove School Administration Center about 15 minutes before Smith's incident.  He said he was driving when he felt something hit his neck.  He then drove to the same gatehouse where Smith was being treated looking for help.

    The man also reported seeing a dark-colored SUV in the area at the time of the shooting.

    The two incidents happened about seven miles apart.

    Last week, a 21-year-old Valparaiso man was shot in the hand and face by a BB gun or air soft pistol, the Post-Tribune of Northwest Indiana reported.

    Army Reservist Nicholas Booker said he was returning home from work in Valparaiso at about 3:45 a.m. on Sept. 14 when an SUV came up behind him.  He said he felt something hit his back and head.  He has metal pellets in his upper lip and left hand.

    "He could see somebody's hand sticking out the window shooting back at him, and he said it looked like a BB gun," said Smith's mother, Michal Knox.

    Lake County Sheriff Roy Dominguez said authorities are concerned and are trying to find those responsible.

    Mike Higgins, a Lake County Sheriff's Department spokesman, said authorities do not believe "in any way, shape or form" that the two incidents are related to a series of events in Hammond four years ago, when numerous drivers reported having their windows and windshields shattered as they drove along Cline Avenue.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation suspected someone with a slingshot or BB gun was shooting out windows.  Others had less-violent theories.  No arrests were ever made and the incidents ended around the beginning of the school year.