OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. (DETROIT FREE PRESS) The 43-year-old Wixom man suspected of being the I-96 corridor shooter was charged this afternoon with several weapons-related felonies in connection with an incident in Howell on Oct. 18.
Raulie Wayne Casteel, 43, was arraigned in 53rd District Court on charges of assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a weapon with unlawful intent, intentionally discharging a weapon from a motor vehicle, and three counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
Bond was set at $2 million cash surety.
Investigators say they believe Casteel is responsible for 24 shootings since mid-October in Oakland, Livingston, Ingham and Shiawassee counties. Oakland County Undersheriff Michael McCabe said other charges are expected in additional jurisdictions this week.
Additional details about Casteel's arrest emerged Wednesday.
Investigators with a task force created to track down the shooter re-interviewed victims over the weekend. One witness remembered key details about the black, four-door car spotted during the crimes: a state-issued Michigan State University license plate with a green S on the left, surrounded by an MSU alumni license plate frame, according to state police investigators.
During a raid on his home Monday night, police seized two handguns, which have been sent for forensic testing, according to task force investigators. The task force said at least eight bullet fragments have been tied to the handgun.
The only victim hit by gunfire was driving on I-96 in Livingston County. Scott Arnold, 46, of Delton, near Kalamazoo, was struck in the buttocks by a bullet as he drove Saturday on I-96 in Livingston County on Oct. 27 to watch a World Series game in Detroit. Three victims' vehicles were hit as they were driving along I-96, with the rest on side roads and other throughways.
Investigators said they believe Casteel, an MSU graduate who had worked in the environmental sciences, acted alone. He lives in Wixom with his wife, a preschool-age daughter and other relatives, according to his mother, Lana Hunt, 62, of Brooksville, Fla.
She said she was worried that he was mentally ill but he refused to see a doctor, she told the Free Press by phone Tuesday.
Hunt said her son was questioned by authorities, and law enforcement officials confirmed that Casteel, 43, is the suspect they have in custody in connection with the shootings.
"One of the family members called me last night. They said the FBI had come earlier in the day and talked to him, and asked if they could take all of the guns out of the house. ... They took the guns," Hunt said. "Then, they (came) back later in the evening, around 11 o'clock, and took him in for questioning."
The task force investigating the shootings said Tuesday that it is confident Casteel is responsible.
Hunt said she was shocked, but doesn't know whether her son is guilty.
"I guess my first thought was: Oh, dear God, thank you for letting him not kill anyone and maybe now he'll get the help that he needs," she said.
But, she added: "It's not in his character to go around shooting at people. That's just not him. That's somebody else. That's somebody that's disturbed."
Hunt said she began noticing changes in her son about a year ago. She said she and others were worried about him.
"He called me one night. He said, 'Mom, if something happens to me, I think the government is involved in it,' " she said.
Hunt described her son as hardworking and said he has no arrests. A check of state and federal court records did not show any criminal history.
Based on his online profile, Casteel appears to have a conservative bent. On a Twitter page believed to belong to him, an Oct. 2 post says: "Unless" Republican presidential candidate Mitt "Romney awakens the American people the abuses of power by" President Barack "Obama and DoJ (Department of Justice), it will be a sleeper!"
During the raid Monday, police seized Casteel's car, which matches the description of the black four-door vehicle believed to have been used in the shootings. Michigan Secretary of State records show a 2009 Chevy Malibu registered in Casteel's name. No color was listed in the records.
A gun also was seized in the investigation, said Donald Dawkins, spokesman for the Detroit office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
The bulk of the shootings occurred Oct. 16-18. Bullets, fragments and a cartridge were recovered, and police said forensic evidence tied several of the shootings to the same gun. Only a handful occurred on I-96; the rest were along other roadways. Police have said the shooter was firing at drivers as they traveled in the opposite direction.
Investigators said they received about 2,800 tips in the search for the shooter. Federal officials and Crime Stoppers were offering a $102,000 reward for information.
By Gina Damron, Ann Zaniewski, Tammy Stables Battaglia and Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press Staff Writers