A 17-year-old Indiana high school student was charged with murder yesterday after police said he confessed to a series of interstate sniper shootings that left one man dead and another wounded last weekend, the Indianapolis Star reports. Suspect Zachariah Blanton will be tried as an adult. Jackson County Prosecutor Stephen Pierson doesn’t know whether he will seek the death penalty, in part because of the defendant’s age. The Associated Press quoted a prosecutor as saying that Blanton had been on a hunting trip with relatives but got into an argument and drove off in anger shortly before the attacks.
Police say Blanton also is responsible for two other highway shootings that occurred about two hours later near Muncie. Delaware County authorities have not charged him in those shootings. State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell said the break in the case came when a reserve deputy officer talked to someone who knew Blanton and was concerned that he might have been involved. Investigators searched Blanton’s home and found a rifle with a scope that fires a .270-caliber round. Investigators who interviewed Blanton said he was cooperative and remorseful. Whitesell said information that Blanton provided led to the charges. “I would call that a confession,” he said. Blanton has faced charges involving sexual offenses and theft, but never was convicted and never served time in jail or in a juvenile detention center. His uncle, Joseph Blanton, a mechanic, described the alleged shooter as “a great kid” who sometimes helped him around the shop.