Suspect Arrested in Va. Highway Gunfire

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - Authorities arrested a suspect early Friday in a series of highway shootings after storming a farm and firing at a man who met them with a handgun, police said.

Slade Allen Woodson, 19, of Afton was charged in separate shootings at a home and a credit union early Thursday, police said. He was not charged with firing shots along a rural stretch of Interstate 64, but authorities said he was considered a suspect and more charges were possible.

"We've taken some mighty big steps toward the resolution of this," State Police Superintendent Steven Flaherty said at a news conference Friday. "Everyone can, I think, rest compared to the state that we were in overnight."

State and county police searched a farm near Crozet in Albemarle County just before 5 a.m. Friday. Another man confronted them with a handgun, and was shot by a county law enforcement officer, police said. Woodson was taken into custody, and the man was taken to a hospital.

Elaine Paley, who lives on a hill overlooking the horse and cattle farm, said she was awakened at 4:40 a.m. by a helicopter flying with spotlights shining on the farm and surrounding woods.

Authorities were still investigating whether a second person was involved in the highway shootings, but had not yet identified anyone, they said. The Albemarle County police officer involved in the shooting is on administrative leave with pay, county Police Chief John Miller said.

The highway gunfire began early Thursday on Interstate 64 on a 20-mile stretch between Charlottesville and Waynesboro. A motorist called police just after midnight to report it, and in the next few hours, gunshots hit two cars, a van, a tractor-trailer, another vehicle and an unoccupied dump truck. Two people were injured, but their injuries were not life threatening.

Sometime between midnight and 2 a.m., shots also were fired at a bank and a residence in Waynesboro.

Police later found a light-colored AMC Gremlin seen on surveillance video around the time shots were fired at the credit union. The car had been abandoned along a road in Albemarle County, and authorities determined that Woodson owns a vehicle that appears similar to the car in the video.

According to news reports and court records, Woodson was arrested on Jan. 18, 2007, and accused of stealing two pickup trucks and setting them on fire. Woodson, a former member of the high school's track and field team, was later convicted of two misdemeanor counts of petit larceny and given a suspended sentence.

On two MySpace pages created under his name, his occupations are listed as "mechanic, sorta" and "horse farm." He is described as "just a country boy who keeps gettin his heart broken!!! Ive got my heart broken twice in less then a year... i dunno wat to do.... keep gettin my heart broke or stop caring!!! and i dont wanna stop caring..."

The highway shootings put motorists and police on edge in a region where memories of the deadly Beltway snipers six years ago still haven't faded. Ten people were killed and three wounded during the 2002 attacks in Maryland, the District of Columbia and northern Virginia.


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