Cars targeted along stretch of interstate

Projectiles hit 5 vehicles on 4-mile segment of I-95

Police have no suspects

Glass cracked, shattered

no one has been hurt

Eastern Howard

April 16, 2004|By Gus G. Sentementes | Gus G. Sentementes,SUN STAFF

Five motorists had their automobile windows cracked or shattered over the past two weeks by an unknown projectile while driving on Interstate 95 in Howard County, with the latest incident occurring yesterday morning during rush-hour, authorities said.

None of the drivers has been injured in the incidents.

Maryland State Police investigators have not recovered any projectiles used to damage the vehicles, and they do not have a description of a suspect or suspects. A state police helicopter, special operations team and a K-9 unit were deployed to investigate yesterday's incident.

Cpl. Rob Moroney, a state police spokesman, said investigators have mostly ruled out the use of a firearm, based on forensic analyses of the damaged vehicles.

"It's probably someone throwing a stone, using a slingshot, or a pellet or BB gun," he said.

The incidents have occurred along a four-mile stretch of I-95, between Route 32 and Route 100, in the northbound and southbound lanes, Moroney said.

Like most other parts of I-95 in Maryland, that stretch is lined by vegetation, and nearby homes and neighborhood streets can be seen from points along the highway.

About 190,000 vehicles drove on I-95 through Howard County each day last year, making it one of the busiest parts of the highway in the state, according to the latest state highway figures.

Some motorists traveling along I-95 yesterday expressed concern that someone may be taking aim on a major highway that sees a daily flood of drivers.

While at the Maryland Welcome Center, a rest stop south of Route 32, Joseph Dickens, 56, said that he drives from his home in Ellicott City to his job in Beltsville every day -- and passes through the stretch of I-95 that has been targeted recently. Now, he thinks he may find a different route.

"It's just as easy to exit on [Route] 32 and take [U.S.] 29 north to Ellicott City," said Dickens, who was awaiting a tow truck for a fender bender. "I might start doing that."

Of the five incidents, two occurred March 30 -- one about 5:50 p.m. and another at 10:30 p.m. -- on the northbound side just north of Route 175. The third incident occurred on the southbound side about 9 a.m. April 3 north of Route 32, Moroney said.

The fourth occurred about 9 a.m. Wednesday, southbound near Route 100. Yesterday's incident happened about 8:50 a.m., southbound near Route 32, Moroney said.

"We're asking anyone who's traveling in that area to be aware and to also keep an eye out if they see anyone along the roadside," Moroney said.

Of the five incidents, one sport utility vehicle was struck and the rest were cars, Moroney said. In one case, a sunroof was shattered, while in two cases, the windshield was cracked. In the other two cases, side windows were shattered, authorities said.

The incidents in Howard County have led the Police Department to patrol areas around the I-95 corridor with greater frequency.

Sherry Llewellyn, a Howard police spokeswoman, said officers who normally patrol along the I-95 corridor have been instructed to spend more time there, but manpower has not been increased.

Anyone with information about the incidents can call the state police at 410-799-2101 or #77 on a cell phone.

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