McCoy was named a suspect two days earlier in a string of 24 shootings since May 2003, most of them along highways outside of Columbus, Ohio. One of the shootings was fatal.
The gambler, Conrad Malsom, 60, told authorities he struck up a conversation with McCoy, who had identified himself as “Mike,” in the sports-book section of the Stardust Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
He offered McCoy a slice of pizza and his suspicions were raised when he noticed that McCoy looked familiar. At the time McCoy was reading a copy of USA Today that featured his picture.
After consulting a computer and pulling up online photos of McCoy, Malsom was sure the man he was talking to was in fact the fugitive.
“In my heart and mind, I knew this was the man the police in Ohio were looking for,” Malsom told the Associated Press.
Malsom continued speaking with McCoy and was able to find out what motel he was staying. After phoning the motel to confirm there was man named McCoy registered, and then visiting the motel parking and seeing McCoy’s dark green Chevrolet Metro, Malsom called the police.
At 2:50 a.m. PST, police surrounded McCoy in the motel parking lot and took him into custody without incident.
Malsom also said he found “bizarre writing” on a sheet of paper that McCoy had left behind at the casino.
“It filled the whole sheet — about 30 lines,” Malsom said. “Each line started with ‘You’ or ‘You are’ but you can’t read it, you can’t read any of it.”
Malsom turned the sheet over to authorities, along with a glass, match book and lunch wrappers McCoy had left behind at the casino.
“He’d make a good detective,” Las Vegas police spokesman Officer Jose Montoya told the Columbus Dispatch of Malsom. “He knew exactly what to do. He talked to him nonchalantly and got as much information as he could out of him.”
Police said that McCoy had a history of mental illness and was believed to be armed, with “suicidal or homicidal tendencies.” His family disagrees with the description, calling him troubled but peaceful.
Targets hit during the sniper spree included homes, schools, school buses and passing cars. One person, Gail Knisley, 62, was struck and killed. Ballistics tests have matched bullet fragments from nine of the shootings, including the Knisley slaying, to one of McCoy’s guns. Ohio police had offered a $60,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the shooter.