Mohammed Pedro Whitaker ID'd As KC Highway Shooter
Authorities have identified the suspect in a string of random Kansas City area highway shootings that occurred between March 18 and April 6, as 27 year old Mohammed Pedro Whitaker. He's been charged with 18 felony counts and is being held under $1 million cash bond.
Whitaker lived in Grandview, which is just south of Kansas City, Mo. and is a 2004 graduate of Moberly High School. He worked at a medical supply company in Overland Park, Kansas but was on administrative at the time of his arrest.
Whitaker went by his middle name, Pedro on his Facebook page, but his friends at Moberly High School, class of 2004, knew him as Mohammed. Those who knew him say he was "an easy-going and friendly kid."
“We kind of hung out with him,” said one former classmate. “He was a pretty decent person. He was friends with everybody.”
Another former classmate agreed, saying, “he was a decent guy.”
At a news conference on Friday, authorities said they knew of no motive, that they believe Whitaker acted alone and that he had little criminal record.
Via The Kansas City Star:
Edward Whitaker, the suspect's father, told Fox 4 KC that his son is "not the highway shooter." He also told 41 Action News' Mitch Weber that if Mohammed Whitaker is the shooter, he must not have acted alone.
Edward Whitaker also talked to the Star, and to Mitch Weber of 41 Action News. He told local reporters that he last talked to his son April 7.
Whitaker has two brothers and one sister.
A Kansas City Star reporter asked him if he had committed the shootings while he was being transferred between the police jail and the county jail, and Whitaker shook his head, no.
Most of the shootings occurred in Kansas City, with most in or near the Grandview triangle. Whitaker would shoot at his victims as they approached highway ramps or road splits, allowing him to veer off in a different direction.
In several of the incidents, the drivers reported seeing "a dark green car near them driven by a man wearing sunglasses, a dark hoodie and sometimes a black ski mask."
A Walmart bag found on the side of the road containing .380 ammunition provided a significant break in the case as the prints on the ammunition boxes matched Whitaker's.
Whitaker initially told detectives he didn’t know much about the shootings, and said he was a victim of the highway shooter himself. According to court records he was unable to explain to police why he had a bullet hole on the inside, not outside, of his car. He also said he didn’t own a gun but was unable to explain why police found a .380-caliber gun, and .380-caliber ammunition in his dresser. Police say he refused to take responsibility but cried at times during his interrogation.
Whitaker was known to have tried on two occasions to buy a gun, but was denied the sale due to lack of identification.
After police started shadowing Whitaker, he was observed trying to buy a .380 handgun with a laser sight from a man in a Bass Pro Shop parking lot, the statements said.
When police questioned the second man, he told officers he advertised the pistol online but refused to sell when Whitaker couldn't provide identification, the statement said.
Officers had trailed Whitaker gathering evidence for about a week before they decided to take action.
While under surveillance, police saw Whitaker allegedly driving aggressively and stalking potential victims by pacing cars in their blind spots on highways, according to court records. Whitaker even braked rapidly to allow another motorist to pull up alongside. Whitaker turned to face the motorist, not knowing he was an undercover officer, the records show.
On Sunday, police saw him driving in heavy rain with his windows rolled down near the Three Trails Crossing wearing sunglasses and a hoodie.
The risk of allowing Whitaker to remain free appeared to hit a breaking point for police Wednesday night when they observed Whitaker following a white Honda near Interstate 49 and 140th Street. Whitaker intentionally crossed all lanes of traffic with his eyes trained on the Honda and “veered directly at the Honda,” narrowly missing it, according to court records.
Whitaker was arrested at his Grandview apartment Thursday night and police are continuing their investigation.