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Sniper with pellet gun targets cars

A pellet gun sniper targeting cars along Interstate 85 struck again Wednesday, in spite of deputies patrolling on the ground and in the air.

In 10 days, someone has shot at least 26 cars, most on a milelong stretch of highway bordered by pine trees, a river, a sewage treatment plant and a television factory.

Deputies in camouflage suits are hiding in the trees, and spotters with binoculars are on the high ground along the highway, a major business route between Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta that the AAA Carolinas motor club says is used by 64,000 vehicles daily.

The only injury has been to a teenage girl, who was hit in one eye by glass when a shot went through a van window.

But drivers are jumpy.

Jo Ann Surrett, a reservations clerk at a nearby motel, said she's started taking a different exit to get to work.

"I'm not as afraid as if it were a real gun, but I still don't want my car to get hit," she said.

The situation is different from I-295 at Jacksonville, where a series of sniper attacks in 1992 led the national AAA to tell motorists to avoid the area, said Lee Morris, a spokesman for AAA Carolinas.

That series of attacks involved weapons that could kill, Morris said. "This is one guy with a BB gun."

The sheriff's department has increased patrols and used bloodhounds, unmarked cars and a helicopter, but the sniper keeps slipping away.

Authorities have said there may be copycat snipers now. Most vehicles have been hit around the Mauldin Road exit, but two others have been hit about five miles away.