DELAWARE - As video played of several police cruisers slowly following Jonathon Myers as he walked up Interstate 71 northbound after he fired on passing motorists and moments before he fired on Columbus police, the 21-year-old slumped in his seat in Delaware County Common Pleas Court, glancing back occasionally at the girlfriend he was with during the March 11 shooting.
At one point, Myers appeared to wipe away tears before Delaware Common Pleas Court Judge David Gormley imposed a 25-year mandatory sentence for the rampage that terrorized motorists and closed the interstate, snarling traffic for hours.
No motorists were injured in the shooting, but Myers was seriously wounded by officers who opened fire on him after he fired on a police cruiser.
I-71 shooting:Columbus police release dashcam video of man firing at officers, 911 calls
Delaware County Prosecutor Melissa Schiffel asked Gormley to impose a lengthy sentence worthy of someone intent on killing others when he fired into passing vehicles.
"Pulling the trigger of a gun is an act to kill," Schiffel said, describing Myer as "pulling the trigger ... again and again and again," while firing into traffic after he had crashed into a guardrail in the median and exited his car near the Powell Road overpass.
I-71 shooting:Columbus man charged with attempted murder for shooting at cars on I-71
Schiffel said that Gormley's sentence, lighter than she sought, "should continue to send a message ... to curb gun violence creeping into our county."
I-71 shooter's attorney: Heavy drug use, mental illness responsible
Myers' attorney, Jeremy Dodgion, said that his client's heavy drug use, mental illness and desperation were responsible, asking for a 23-year sentence.
I-71 shooting:Suspect in shooting of vehicles, police on I-71 wants to plead not guilty by insanity
"He did not intend to go out shooting random victims," Dodgion said, saying that Myers had been "self-medicating with any drugs that he could get his hands on" for days.
In imposing the sentence, Gormley ran several of the charges concurrently. Myers could have faced more than 100 years on charges of murder, attempted aggravated murder, felonious assault and discharging a firearm.
Myers fired at numerous vehicles, striking at least three - a UPS truck, a van carrying two members of the Madison High School wrestling team and two coaches, and a van carrying several developmentally disabled clients on their way to COSI.
The driver of that vehicle described the panic inside the van.
"My clients were upset and crying," she said, describing one passenger, patting himself down, telling her, "He shot at us. I'm checking myself for bullet holes."
The driver, who didn't want to be named, said she's since been diagnosed with PTSD as a result of the incident.
Myers fled when officers arrived, running north along the highway. When approached by a line of Columbus police cruisers, he turned and fired his handgun, striking one police cruiser.
Officers returned fire, striking Myers in the lower body and sending him to the pavement.
Several Columbus police officers lined the courtroom benches "to show support" for those directly involved, one officer said.
Schiffel called the incident "the most serious conduct I have seen in my career.... in which no one, by the grace of God, was seriously injured."
At one point, Myers' stepfather, James Edwards, held 9-month-old Jayleigh Myers, one of the defendant's three children, during the hour-long hearing.
Afterwards, he called Johnathon Myers' sentence "bettter than anything we could have expected."
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Delaware County judge sentences I-71 gunman to 25 years in prison