CHICAGO
09/23/2010 01:10 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Shootings On Indiana Roads Evoke 2006 Sniper Case

The number of people shot on roadways in northwest Indiana in recent days is up to three, and authorities are expressing concern that the incidents may be connected.

53-year-old Debbie Smith was driving near 93rd Avenue on her way to a Wal-Mart in Merrillville, Indiana. She suddenly heard a loud noise, and felt something strike the left side of her head. Smith told NBC Chicago that she put her hand to the place she'd been hit, and found it covered with blood:

Bleeding, she drove back to the gate at of her Lakes of the Four Seasons community and was treated by paramedics for a minor cut and swelling on the head. It wasn't until later, when she drove herself to St. Mary's Hospital, in Hobart, that doctors discovered that a bullet was lodged in her head.
"This was devastating because the neurosurgeon said maybe a few more centimeters and it would have actually gone into the brain, so who knows what that would have meant," said Smith's husband, Jim.
...
"My head just hurts horribly. I can't imagine anybody being so evil," she said.

Roughly 15 minutes before Smith was hit, a 39-year-old man from Crown Point was struck with a projectile in the neck while driving, according to a WGN report. He was near County Roads 100S and 500W in Porter County, close to the site of Smith's shooting.

The third incident took place a week earlier, when Army reservist Nicholas Brooks was heading home around 3:45 a.m. near Valparaiso, IN, just a few miles from the other two shootings. According to the Post-Tribune, an S.U.V. approached Brooks, and fired several pellets at him. X-rays showed metal fragments lodged in his hand and face.

The Lake County Sheriff's Department is investigating the matter, and trying to determine whether the incidents are connected.

But a spokesman for the department told NBC that they do not believe that the incidents are related "in any way, shape or form" to a series of apparent sniper attacks in the same part of the state four years ago.

Car windows were shattered in a series of apparently random attacks in 2006 that were never solved. Police suspected that attackers were using a BB gun, or maybe even a slingshot, to break drivers' windows, although some believed that even debris on the roadway might have been the culprit in those incidents.