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Police: Teen shot at vehicles to 'relieve pressure'




SEYMOUR, Indiana (AP) -- A teenager who confessed to a series of highway shootings had been on a hunting trip in the area and drove off in anger after arguing with relatives shortly before the attacks, a prosecutor said Wednesday.


Police believe the 17-year-old went to a nearby overpass outside Seymour early Sunday, aimed his rifle over the trunk of his vehicle and began shooting at trucks on Interstate 65 about 60 miles south of Indianapolis.


One bullet killed a passenger in a pickup and another wounded a man. Two hours later, a tractor-trailer and unoccupied sport utility vehicle were hit by bullets about 100 miles to the north, close to the teenager's home.


Zachariah Blanton of Gaston was arrested Tuesday on preliminary charges of murder, attempted murder and criminal recklessness. He was due in court later Wednesday. (Watch how an alleged teen sniper remorsefully confessed -- 1:29)


"He said he in fact did do the shootings, however, only with the intention of relieving pressure," John Kelly, an Indiana State Police crime scene technician, testified Tuesday during a probable cause hearing. Kelly said Blanton also told him about the argument.


The teen apparently had been arguing with relatives over gutting a deer during a hunting trip about 20 miles south of Seymour, Jackson County Prosecutor Stephen Pierson said.


When investigators questioned him Tuesday after receiving a tip that he might have been involved, his demeanor was "cooperative, it was remorseful," said Sheriff George Sheridan Jr. of Delaware County, where the second set of shootings occurred.


Blanton came to the attention of investigators on Monday after an acquaintance told a Delaware County reserve deputy that the teen might be involved in the shootings, State Police Superintendent Paul Whitesell said.


Pierson said police had recovered a rifle they believed was used in the shootings that killed Jerry L. Ross, 40, of New Albany, and slightly wounded an Iowa man in another pickup.


Blanton had previous brushes with the law for what Sheridan would describe only as "crimes of sex and of theft."


The teen's page on MySpace.com has as its background a painting of a 12-point buck and lists his interests as "Huntin, Fishin, Muddin and goin out with friends."


A message seeking comment was left at the home of Blanton's grandparents, who police said were his legal guardians.


Blanton's great-aunt told The Star Press of Muncie that she was shocked by the allegations against him.


"I can't imagine that he would be involved," Denise Blanton said.


Gaston resident Kenneth Shipley, 59, said he knows Blanton's grandfather and that the teen had been a rider on the school bus he once drove.


"This isn't the Zach I knew," he said. "I took this real hard. Zach just needed some attention, someone to talk to."







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