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By Christine Vendel, The Kansas City Star

KANSAS CITY, MO — A 27-year-old Kansas City area man has been charged in the recent series of highways shootings, Jackson County prosecutors said Friday.

Mohammed Whitaker, of Grandview, MO was charged with 18 felony counts related to 9 incidents. Charges included shooting into a motor vehicle and hitting a victim. More charges may be added, prosecutors said.

A series of at least 12 shootings started in early March. The latest shooting linked to the pattern occurred April 6. Three victims were wounded in the spree.

Most of the shootings occurred in Kansas City, with most in or near the Three Trails Crossing. Authorities said they knew of no motive, they believe Whitaker acted alone and that he had little criminal record.

Whitaker was arrested Thursday night after police raided a Grandview residence.

Tactical officers towed away a green Dodge Neon with Illinois license plates. The plates were registered to the suspect’s father, who said he was shocked by the developments.

“I thought everything was okay with him,” his father said. “I just thought he was working and trying to pay off his college bills.”

His father said he recently paid for the Illinois license plates, which belonged to his white Buick that he gave to his son. But the Buick had transmission problems, so his son began driving a different car recently. His son apparently moved the plates from the Buick to the Dodge Neon.

His son last called him April 7 to ask for money to get him through until his payday. The father sent him $50.

The suspect worked at a medical supply company in Overland Park, Kansas, in sales, his father said. The suspect had dropped out of a technical college, where he was studying bio-medical equipment repair, his father thought.

“To my knowledge, he’s never fired a gun” the father said. “I’m totally shocked by all this.”

The father had heard of the shootings in Kansas City, but “never had a dream or clue he could be involved in something like that.”

Whitaker is on administrative leave from his job at OptumRx in Overland Park, the division of UnitedHealth Group that fills prescriptions, a company spokesman said.

Photo by Brittany Randolph/Flickr

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