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BB sniper suspect is arrested

From an open window on Madison Street, a teenager took aim and fired.

One shot hit the side of a van. Another shattered a car window.

Both drivers called 911.

Within minutes, about 2 p.m. Thursday, New Port Richey police officers arrived and began searching for the shooter. Three nearby schools locked everyone inside, uncertain whether a gunman was on the loose.

The shooter, police said, was 18-year-old Charles Edward Eckstein of 5144 Madison St. in New Port Richey. He told police he had fired a BB gun because he "had a lot of stress" and needed to "get some anger out," according to an arrest report.

He faces two counts of shooting into an occupied vehicle. No one was injured.

New Port Richey police Capt. Darryl Garman said officers quickly found shattered glass from one of the cars outside Eckstein's home. He was among the first people police questioned, and Eckstein said he had heard two loud pops that sounded like firecrackers.

From that, police thought someone might have been shooting a gun, Garman said.

But other witnesses told officers they had heard no loud noises. Police quickly focused on Eckstein as the suspect.

Another 18-year-old, whose name was not available Thursday, was inside Eckstein's house during the shooting, Garman said. The teenager told police Eckstein had shot the cars, Garman said.

The shooting happened near Gulf High School, which locked its doors, as did Gulf Middle School and Marlow Elementary School, Garman said. The schools reopened after about 30 minutes, he said.

_ Jamie Jones covers police news in west Pasco. She can be reached at 869-6245 in west Pasco and toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6245. Her e-mail address is jjonessptimes.com.

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