A Georgia man who hid in the woods and shot at passing cars on the highway said he was inspired by Parkland shooter Nikolas Cruz, who he called a "hero," police said.
Police identified Rex Whitmire Harbour, of Snellville, as the sniper who shot two people on Georgia State Route 365, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Harbour, 26, fired at least 17 shots at seven cars before he shot and killed himself, police said.
The ambushes injured a 72-year-old man who was struck in the hip and a 54-year-old man who was shot in the leg, Hall County Fire Services spokesman Zachary Brackett said. Both are expected to survive.
In a news conference Saturday, Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch said Harbour "idolized" Cruz. Deputies found handwritten documents at Harbour's house that called Cruz a "hero" who gave him "courage and confidence."
Deputies also found numerous weapons in Harbour's car, including three 9mm pistols, a BB gun, a 12-gauge shotgun and more than 3,400 rounds of ammunition, Couch said. None of the weapons appeared to be stolen.
“What his motivation was other than just hate, we don’t know at this time,” Couch said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “He had the weapons, the ammunition and obviously the will to inflict a lot of harm and a lot of hate.”
The first call came in midday Friday from a motorist who said her husband had been shot, Couch said.
“Almost immediately, additional callers reported hearing gunshots and advised that other vehicles had been struck by bullets in the same vicinity,” he added. “911 callers also indicated a second adult male motorist had been hit by a bullet.”
Authorities quickly closed the highway and set up a perimeter. Just a few minutes later, a beige Buick Century was spotted pulling out of the woods, according to Couch. A deputy charged at the car on foot with his gun drawn, but the driver sped away. The chase didn't last long, Couch said, because the driver shot himself in the head with a 9mm pistol.
“The car went out of control and came to a stop in the median,” he said. “No law enforcement officers fired shots during the incident.”
Cruz has confessed to shooting and killing 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on Valentine's Day. Authorities received at least 45 calls about him or his younger brother before the massacre, CNN reported.