An active shooter standing on Interstate 71 northbound and firing at vehicles Friday morning near the Gemini Place interchange, striking at least three vehicles, was shot by Columbus police after an exchange of gunfire, police spokesman Sgt. James Fuqua said.
The incident began shortly before 10 a.m. when a man exited a vehicle along the side of I-71 northbound near the Gemini Place exit in Delaware County and started randomly shooting at vehicles on the interstate with a handgun, Fuqua said. At least three vehicles were struck, but there were no reported injuries to motorists, he said.
Columbus police and the Delaware County and Franklin County sheriff’s offices all started receiving calls about the shooting at 9:57 am, he said.
When officers arrived at the scene, the gunman began firing at them, Fuqua said, and and officers returned fire. The gunman shot at and struck a Columbus police cruiser multiple times before the gunman was hit by gunfire from at least one of the three Columbus police officers on scene and went down.
Officers rendered aid to the suspect until medics could take the unidentified male to a nearby hospital. The suspect was initially listed in critical condition, but has since been upgraded to stable condition, Fuqua said.
One Columbus police officer was taken to a local hospital to be examined for a non-gunshot-related injury, he said.
A female inside the vehicle the man exited along the side of I-71 was detained for questioning. No motive for the shooting spree was immediately known, Fuqua said.
Body cameras on the officers involved and police cruiser cameras were activated during the incident, Fuqua said. That video footage will be among the evidence reviewed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, which, by policy, investigates all Columbus police officer-involved shooting incidents.
I-71 northbound was closed from Interstate 270 north to north of Gemini Place and I-71 south was reduced to one lane of traffic from Route 36/37 south to Gemini Place in Delaware County because of the shooting incident, according to Breanna Badanes, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The closings caused heavy congestion on I-270 east and west near the closed ramps to I-71 and I-71 south was backed up for several miles in Delaware County.
Jeff Simpson, who just assumed the role of president of the Fraternal Order of Police Capital City Lodge No. 9, representing Columbus police officers, said officers did what they are supposed to do, protect the public.
The incident, he said, involved “someone making a very bad decision being on a freeway … Shooting at police, expect to be shot.”
The area where the shooting occurred while located in Delaware County, is within Columbus police jurisdiction.