October 2013 case helps police nab highway shooting suspect

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Dwight Tolbert and his wife Quenlin were enjoying a quiet evening in the south Kansas City home they had moved to just a few months prior when the October calm was shattered by a loud noise coming from their bathroom.

Tolbert, a retired meat-cutter, got up to investigate. When he found a .380 slug on the floor of his bathroom surrounded by broken tile, he was shocked.

“I was surprised,” Tolbert told 41 Action News on Friday. “Nobody was gunning for me so I don't know why anybody would be shooting at my house?”

That mystery remained unsolved for more than six months until Kansas City police used the slug and the Tolbert’s address to link the shooting there to others around the metro-- now believed to have been the work of suspect Mohammed Whitaker, who was arrested on Thursday.

Court documents show police tracked a license plate number associated with Whitaker back to a house on Beacon Street in south Kansas City. That home is less than 100 yards from the Tolberts’ and the back yards line up well for a possible shot. When police ran the slug found at the Tolberts’ home through standard ballistics test, it matched 11 others recovered from highway shooting crime scenes.

That piece of evidence was just one of several leads followed by Kansas City Police Department detectives and federal agents and they pursued the shooter or shooters terrorizing motorists on Kansas City metro highways for nearly two weeks.

Matching bullets to an address and an address to Whitaker, allowed police to get a warrant to track his car.

With the car under surveillance, police witnessed Whitaker attempt to buy another handgun and several disturbing instances in which he appeared to be following or targeting other drivers.

By the time KCPD and federal agents raided Whitaker’s home on Thursday, they were more than confident in the evidence they had accumulated. In his home they found still more: hoodies and a mask matching the description given by several witnesses, gloves with the trigger finger removed, a handgun, and dozens of rounds of ammunition just like those dug out of car door and the Tolberts’ bathroom all the way back in October.   

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