Columbus, OH – A gunman who opened fire on passing vehicles and law enforcement officers after driving off the interstate and crashing through a median cable in March has been sentenced to decades in prison.
Jonathon Myers, a 21-year-old father of three, has been ordered to serve between 25 and 31-and-one-half years in prison after being convicted of three counts of attempted murder, discharging of a firearm near prohibited premises, attempted aggravated murder, and felonious assault, WCMH reported.
He will be eligible to apply for parole in just eight years, according to WBNS.
Myers initially pled not guilty by reason of insanity on June 6 and was grated a request for a mental health evaluation, WCMH reported.
He eventually changed his plea to guilty on Oct. 14.
City Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel said the sentence, which was below what she had been seeking, will hopefully help deter other instances of gun violence in the community, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
“I am so thankful for all of law enforcement who descended upon this chaotic scene to protect all of the human life on the roadway that day,” Schiffel told WBNS. “I will continue to vigorously prosecute criminals who bring their gun violence to Delaware County. We don’t want your violence here, and you will be held accountable.”
Myers’ attorney, Jeremy Dodgion, said his client deserved a lesser sentence, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
“He did not intend to go out shooting random victims,” Dodgion said, noting that Myers had also been dealing with mental health issues.
Dodgion said the suspect had been “self-medicating with any drugs that he could get his hands on” for days prior to the shooting, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Myers addressed the court briefly during the hearing, saying he was “extremely depressed and suicidal” when the incident occurred.
“That day I was not in my right state of mind,” he said. “I have learned some valuable lessons to use and succeed in life.”
The incident occurred on Interstate 71 northbound near mile marker 123 shortly before 10 a.m. on March 11, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Multiple motorists called 911 to report that a gunman was standing in the traffic lanes, firing a gun at oncoming cars, according to the paper.
“There were no vehicles between me and the individual as he was in the median, whipped out the handgun from his waistband and started firing at the cops,” one caller said. “I watched everything happen right next to me.”
Another driver told the 911 dispatcher that a gunman wearing black pants and a blue and red hoodie shot his van, chipping the windshield, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Investigators said Myers was traveling in a Ford Fusion that went off Interstate 71 northbound, crashed through a median cable, and came to a stop on the southbound side of the median facing north, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Ohio Department of Transportation footage showed that a woman Myers appeared to be angry with was also inside the car, according to the paper.
Myers got out of the vehicle and started running back and forth across the northbound lanes, then allegedly opened fire on at least three oncoming vehicles.
Police later said a transport van carrying two Madison High School coaches and two students was hit by gunfire, as were a UPS truck and a car, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
“We all slammed on our brakes,” the UPS driver told the 911 dispatcher. “He ran through the middle of traffic.”
No one was injured by the gunfire, according to police.
Columbus police raced to the scene and began traveling down the interstate side-by-side to prevent the motorists behind them from encountering the gunman up ahead, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
They they blocked the road and used a patrol vehicle as cover as multiple additional officers on foot proceeded to confront Myers.
The suspect responded by opening fire on the police cruiser, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Officers returned fire, wounding him.
The gunman was rushed to Ohio Health Grant Medical Center in critical condition, but he ultimately survived.
Investigators said the vehicle Myers was traveling in at the time of the crash matched the description of a vehicle that was involved in a hit-and-run incident less than 30 minutes prior to the shooting.
Myers was also out on bail for another offense at the time of the incident and had multiple outstanding drug and domestic violence charges, The Columbus Dispatch reported.