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University Place road rage incident leads to fatal shooting

The scene of the incident. (Pierce County Sheriff's Department Facebook)

A Wednesday evening road rage incident in University Place escalated to a shooting that left a man dead.

When cars were backed up along Chambers Creek Road, a windy, two-lane road next to a creek, one DuPont man in a pickup pulled out and began passing the line of cars in the oncoming lane. After another driver honked at him, he allegedly stopped his pickup and got out carrying a gun. The pickup driver pointed the gun at the car behind him.

“That changed the whole dynamic of what was going on,” Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Detective Ed Troyer told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson.

However, a passenger in that car also had a gun, and pulled that weapon out in apparent self-defense, according to witness reports. After a brief fight, the pickup driver was shot. An off-duty firefighter who happened to be at the scene attempted to revive the man with CPR, but was unsuccessful; the man died at the scene.

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“If he just would have driven home and let it go, he’d be home with his kids and wife,” Troyer said.

The passenger who shot the pickup driver was not apprehended by law enforcement, as his actions were deemed to be taken to save not only his own life, but perhaps lives of others around him.

“He may have saved some lives — we’ll never know,” Troyer said.

The man who allegedly began the incident left behind a wife and children.

“Unfortunately for them, their dad didn’t come home because of something where someone let their temper get the worst of them,” Troyer said. “In today’s society, if you pull out a gun, you’d better be ready for someone else to have one and confront you … we unfortunately have someone dead over something as silly as a horn honk.”

Now, because of a tragic incident that began with simple road rage, the lives of the man’s family members, the self-defense shooter, and the witnesses are forever impacted.

“It’s not like television — when you actually see that happen in real life, and see somebody laying on the concrete right out in the middle of the roadway dying, that’s very traumatic … there are a lot of people who will never, ever forget what they saw last night,” Troyer said. “There are going to be kids who are going to grow up without a parent. And we have somebody who did the shooting who is going to have to live with that — not that he did anything wrong.”

As is customary with incidents like this one, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department will continue to work with all of the witnesses through its chaplaincy program and support groups as they process the trauma in the coming months.

The moral of the story, Troyer said, is to never let your emotions overcome reason during a road rage situation. No matter what, it is always best to remain calm and avoid altercations.

“Hold your temper in and drive away — don’t engage,” he said. “That man would have been home with his family within about 10 minutes.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from 12-3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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