Task Force Says I-96 Might Be Safer Than Back Roads

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

The playoff football game in Williamston Friday night wasn't the only thing worrying people.

The task force in charge of finding the I-96 shooter believes the suspect knows the areas where the shootings occurred well, and that has communities near I-96 feeling a bit anxious.

Williamston social studies teacher John Clink was in charge of popcorn at the playoff game against Three Rivers, and traveling from Howell, he wasn't taking any chances.

"I've taken a couple of pieces of thick plywood, cutting board if you will, and I've inserted them into my car," Clink said. "One in the back and one on the side. Anything that will stop the momentum of a bullet."

Like many people, he's also tried to avoid I-96, but the task force said that's not necessary. In fact, that stretch of I-96 might be one of the safest highways in Michigan because of the increased police presence.

"I honestly think the highway might be safer than the back roads, and we just don't know," Lt. Vern Elliott of the Ingham County Sheriff's Office and member of the task force said. "If we could say for sure where he would be, I could tell you where to avoid, and we can't do that, we don't know where he's going to be next."

Plenty of people still came out to Williamston for the game, but fans said there were way more empty bleachers than they expected, on both sides of the field.

Three Rivers usually travels well as a team, but many parents were worried about the drive.

"I was concerned, but this might be my daughter's last game, so I figured I'm going to come," Linda Bennett, a mother of a Three Rivers cheerleader said. "What the heck? I can't live in fear."

A sheriff's patrol car was stationed at the Williamston exit, which drivers were happy to see.

The task force remains busy responding to more than 2,300 tips and searching for a man they call a potential witness. They released security camera photos of a man at the Mobil gas station in Brighton on Saturday, the day two people were shot at. He's not a suspect, just someone they want to talk to.

"We don't know until we talk to him and find out what he saw, what he can help us out," Lt. Elliott said. "Yea, he does look like the composite, but I look like the composite. So, we think he's a witness right now and we're hoping we can get the chance to talk to him."

The task force also believes there might still be more victims out there who just don't realize their car was shot at yet.

Lt. Elliott said every piece of information helps. The task force hopes more businesses might come forward with surveillance photos, and people are encouraged to call 1-800-SPEAK-UP with any information.

The reward for information that leads to an arrest is at $102,000, but it could go up if the shooter isn't caught soon.


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