Two Virginia shootings drug-linked, say police

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The Independent US

Two of the three recent killings in West Virginia may have been drug related, rather than random shootings by a sniper, police believe.

Kanawha County Chief Deputy Phil Morris said that ballistics tests proved a .22 calibre rifle was used in the two killings on 14 August. Ballistics tests were incomplete for the other victim - shot three days earlier - but the bullet appeared to be similar.

"We can't eliminate the possibility of a sniper, but it appears like it is drug-related," Mr Morris said.

Residents in Campbells Creek, near Charleston - home of victims Jeanie Patton, 31, and Okey Meadows, 26 - had raised concerns with police that their deaths may have been related to drugs. The two were shot 90 minutes apart at convenience stores 10 miles from each other. Similar concerns have not been raised in the death of Gary Carrier, 44, outside a Charleston convenience store.

The killings evoked memories of last year's sniper shootings in Washington, in which 10 people were killed. Officers who worked on the Washington case have been in West Virginia assisting investigators.