Family shocked, desire to visit suspected highway shooter in jail

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Edward Whitaker says he's extremely shocked to hear his son, Mohammed Whitaker, is now in jail and charged as the suspected highway shooter.

"I've been seeing stuff on the news," said Whitaker over the phone to FOX 4’s Robert Townsend.

He said he saw the month-long news coverage of the string of highway shootings in the Kansas City area, but had no idea police arrested his 27-year-old son on Thursday until a newspaper reporter contacted him.

"I got a call from a newspaper yesterday about something, asked me about the license plates on a vehicle," he said.

Police seized a dark green Dodge Neon when they took the Grandview man into custody, a car the elder Whitaker claimed to know nothing about. He lives in Cairo, Illinois and said several years ago his son went to Devry University and then to work at United Healthcare in the metro area. He said he last talked to his son on April 7th, when Mohammed asked him for money.

"Just talking normal and he said he needed a few bucks to hold him over until that Friday, his pay day," he said.

The suspect's father is convinced his son did not commit the highway shootings he's charged with and the news also left Lydia Watts, Mohammed’s aunt surprised.

"Oh I can't believe it,” she said in a separate phone interview.

She expressed utter shock and said the Mohammed Whitaker she remembers growing up in Cairo, Illinois was respectful, friendly and kindhearted.

"That’s not like him. I mean he’s a loving young man. Something must have snapped in his mind or something. I’m praying for him," she said.

Watts says right now a lot of her relatives are still learning about Whitaker's arrest. She says their family desperately wants to come to Kansas City and see him in jail. His father is confused because it goes against how he’s known his son to be.

“He's never portrayed or displayed any kind of violent behavior. I’ve never seen him hold a gun or even talk about guns,” he said. "I can't see him doing that. As far as I know he's been going to work like he said he was doing."

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