Monday, April 21, 2014
I write today regarding the affidavit for probable cause in the Kansas City highway-shootings case. I conclude the affidavit contains sufficient information to establish probable cause to believe that Mohammed Pedro Whittaker shot at 12 victims in their vehicles on highways in the Kansas City area between March 18th and April 6th of 2014.
The affidavit by Detective Dawn McCamish of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department identifies 12 victims in 11 vehicles who were shot at while exiting highways in the Kansas City area.
Three of the victims were wounded (victims 1, 9 and 11 in the affidavit). Victims 1 and 9 were shot in their right arms with the shots passing through the front seat passenger side windows. Victim 11 was shot in the lower left leg with the shot passing through the door on the driver’s side. All three are males.
Five of the 12 victims are females. Victims 3 and 4 are a mother and daughter who were in the same vehicle with the mother driving and the daughter sitting in the back seat behind her.
Bullets were recovered from each of the 11 vehicles. According to ballistic analysis, all of the bullets were fired from the same weapon, a .380 caliber handgun.
Only two of the victims saw the shooter. Victim 3, the mother driving with her daughter in the back seat, saw a black male wearing a hoodie pull beside her on the left before the shots were fired. She was unable to provide a description of the vehicle that he was driving.
Another victim, who is not identified by number, told the police that he saw a dark metallic green sedan pull alongside him driven by a male wearing a black hoodie, ski mask and dark sunglasses. The window on the passenger side of green sedan was down and front door on the driver’s side of the victim’s vehicle took the shot.
The affidavit also references tips received from three callers an April 8th and 9th.
The first tip on April 8th reported a dark green sedan, possibly a Dodge Neon with Illinois plates followed the caller.
The second tip on April 9th reported seeing a mixed race male in his early 20s wearing a black hoodie and ski mask while driving a green Dodge Neon with Illinois plates.
A third tip received on April 9th reported an encounter that she had with a person driving a light green or turquoise vehicle with damage to the rear bumper. She stopped behind the vehicle at a stop sign. The driver stared at her. He was wearing a gray hoodie and a cloth mask that covered his face.
She followed him after he pulled away from the stop sign and stayed behind him even though he hit the brakes and slowed down as if to allow her to pass him. She remained behind him until she reached the I-71 on ramp. Then she took the on ramp to get away from him.
She reported the vehicle license as Illinois plate G86 5203.
This encounter occurred on March 20th at 1900 hours when the temperature was 70 degrees. She said all of the windows in his vehicle were down.
Police ran the plate. It came back to a white Buick registered to the suspect’s father, who resides at 9624 Beacon.
Police ran an incident search on the white Buick and obtained three hits.
On August 31st, 2013 it was reported parked in front of 9624 Beacon.
On August 30th, it was parked in front of 9622 Beacon.
On August 22nd, it was parked in front of 9622 Beacon with a dark green vehicle parked behind it.
Police ran an incident search on 9622 Beacon and obtained a hit dated October 11th, 2013. On that date, the residents of the house directly behind 9622 Beacon reported that someone fired a shot into their house. The bullet was a .380 caliber.
On April 9th a witness contacted police and reported finding a plastic Walmart bag containing spent .380 caliber casings and empty boxes of .380 caliber ammunition. He found the bag beside a highway while he was searching for his cell phone that he lost.
Police identified the suspect’s fingerprint on the bag.
Police located the suspect’s green Dodge Neon on April 10th and began following him.
On April 11th they saw him contact a male and attempt to purchase a .380 caliber handgun with a laser sight. The male refused to sell the gun because the suspect said he did not have ID. The male provided police with the suspect’s cell phone number. He was able to provide the number because the suspect had texted him to express interest in purchasing the gun, which the male had advertised for sale.
Police were able to determine where the suspect was living from the cellular service provider’s GPS locator.
On April 12th, the police followed him to a parking lot where he parked and left the vehicle. While he was gone, they walked around the vehicle and noted the damaged rear fender reported by the caller who had followed him and obtained his license plate number. From outside the vehicle, they saw a hoodie and a mask in the pocket of the passenger seat.
While following him on April 13th, they saw him remove plastic covering his windows and subsequently engage in erratic driving speeding up and slowing down in his vehicle. At one point, he swerved suddenly and almost struck a Honda that he appeared to be following.
Police obtained search warrants for his residence where they found masks and a .380 caliber handgun that fired the bullets that were recovered from the 11 vehicles.
The suspect’s father told police that he gave the license plate to the suspect.
When the police interrogated the suspect, he waived Miranda and agreed to answer their questions. When they accused him of the shootings, he denied being the shooter at the Jewish Community Center. They told him that they were not talking about those shootings. They said they were talking about the highway shootings.
He denied responsibility for those shootings and then claimed to be one of the victims.
I note parenthetically that the first victim was driving a green Dodge Neon. Probably only the victim and the shooter knew that, so it seems like he was claiming to be the first victim which reminds me of the stealing-the-victim’s-scream strategy used by Zimmerman and Pistorius.
The test for probable cause is whether reasonable grounds exist to believe that the suspect shot at the 11 vehicles.
Based on the information contained in Detective McCamish’s affidavit, I believe there is probable cause to conclude that Mohammed Pablo Whittaker is the person who shot at the 12 victims in the 11 vehicles.
Probable cause is not proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Only two of the victims saw the shooter and his car. All of the cases are tied together by the ballistics evidence and the shooter’s modus operandi to draw next to a potential victim who is committed to an exit lane or on ramp and shooting at the victim who cannot then follow the shooter, if the victim survives the shooting.
Modus operandi evidence is admissible regarding uncharged misconduct pursuant to Rule 404(b) and here there are several instances of his erratic driving in an apparent attempt to line up a potential victim. One incident involved the woman who reported his license plate to police. Another, with police watching, involved the Honda that he nearly ran into.
Appears to be little doubt that he intended to shoot people, not just cars, since he wounded three victims and subsequently attempted to improve his aim by purchasing a .380 caliber handgun with a laser.
Not an airtight case, but close.
Safe to say,
Bring lawyers, guns and money cuz I’m in a helluva jam.
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