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Police say argument led sniper to fire randomly

A family argument may have precipitated the sniper attacks late last month that claimed the life of a New Albany man.
Zachariah Blanton, 17, of Gaston, appeared in Jackson Circuit Court last Wednesday after he was arrested late afternoon on July 25, two days after allegedly opening fire on vehicles driving on Interstate 65 near Seymour and Interstate 69 west of Muncie.
He faces one count each of murder and attempted murder and three counts of criminal recklessness.
Jerry L. Ross, 40, was killed early Sunday morning as he was riding in a pickup with his twin brother and another brother. The men were traveling on I-65 on their way home from an auto race when a bullet pierced the windshield near the 52-mile marker.
Ross’ mother, Sue Adams, and grandmother, Annis Barrow, live in Corydon. The New Albany man would have celebrated his 41st birthday Sunday.
An Iowa man, who was also driving south on I-65, was injured when he was struck by a bullet while driving in the same area.
Vehicles were reported fired on along I-69 in Delaware County; no one was injured in those shootings, which are believed to have also been at the hand of Blanton.
Jackson County Prosecutor Stephen Pierson said that Blanton had spent July 22, the day before the shootings, hunting with family members in Washington County. At the end of the day, Pierson said, there was an argument and Blanton drove away. He told police that he parked his car and fired his rifle to relieve stress from the argument, then drove on to his grandparents’ home in Delaware County, where he lived. He also told police he fired more shots before reaching the residence, but he wasn’t sure where he was when he did that.
Blanton’s grandmother, Patricia Blanton, 58, was charged by Delaware County officials with obstruction of justice in connection with the ongoing investigation. She was later released after posting a $5,000 bond.
A trial has been scheduled for Dec. 13 for Zachariah Blanton. If convicted, he could face 45 to 65 years in prison for the murder charge, 20 to 50 years for the attempted murder charge and six months to three years for each criminal recklessness charge.
Blanton is too young to face the death penalty. The Indiana General Assembly raised the minimum age in 2002 for capital punishment to 18 at the time of the crime.