An apparent road rage incident in Georgia turned dangerous when a driver allegedly unleashed a barrage of gunfire while he had an infant in his vehicle.
Michael Gabriel was driving to a doctor’s appointment on Wednesday morning when another driver allegedly brake-checked him for possibly tailgating. Gabriel said the driver in front of him slammed on his brakes so hard that he was forced to swerve into the outside lane to avoid a collision.
Gabriel then pulled up next to the Ford Mustang on Ga. 365.
“He didn’t like getting flipped off,” Gabriel told The Times of Gainesville, Georgia.
The driver brake-checked Gabriel again. Then the Mustang driver got behind Gabriel and allegedly fired off three gunshots.
“He’s a little bit behind me, kind of diagonally,” Gabriel explained. “So I look back and that’s when I saw his window coming down, the gun coming out. Pow! Pow! Pow!”
A bullet pierced his back window, traveled through his car seat, and tore into his right shoulder.
Gabriel told WSB-TV, “There wasn’t a warning shot. He was trying to kill me.”
Gabriel pulled out his smartphone to take a video and capture the license plate number on the Mustang. However, when he got near the Mustang, he dropped his phone as nine more gunshots rang out. The alleged gunman got out of his car and reportedly fired on Gabriel’s SUV.
During the second shooting, a bullet struck Gabriel in the lower back.
“Had that back shot had any more power, or if the trajectory had been any different, if that seat hadn’t — if it wasn’t built exactly like it was, that could have took out a lot of my organs,” Gabriel said. “It could have been game over.”
Gabriel called the police. He was rushed to the hospital and released later that day.
“It took a serious hand to God to keep me alive and here today,” Gabriel said.
However, a 65-year-old innocent bystander was not so lucky. Paula Kay Blackwell was “caught in the crossfire,” according to Lt. Kevin Holbrook of the Gainesville Police Department. Blackwell was shot in the kidney and was in critical condition as of Thursday, police said.
Video shows Gabriel’s Chevrolet Tahoe riddled with bullet holes.
Gainesville police arrested 26-year-old Steven Dallas Cooper. He was charged with aggravated battery, criminal attempt to commit murder, criminal damage to property, reckless conduct, and aggravated assault. Cooper is being held without bond in Hall County Jail.
Cooper had a 2-year-old child in the backseat of the car during the alleged shooting, according to police.
Gabriel’s advice for future road rage situations, “It’s so not worth this. If someone makes you mad, wave at them and say a prayer for them.”
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