Baltimore County police caution drivers about road-rage assailant

Baltimore County police are urging drivers to use caution as they continue to search for an assailant who shot a woman in a road rage incident Sunday on Interstate 695.

The 58-year-old woman is in serious condition after she was shot on the inner loop near Harford Road. The woman was passing two other drivers who were arguing when she was shot, according to police.

Officer Jennifer Peach, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Police Department, said the suspect should be considered armed and dangerous, particularly because he took aim at a woman who was not initially involved in the incident.

“This woman by all appearances accidentally drove into this situation but then became the target of this suspect’s anger or aggression,” Peach said.

Police are asking drivers who were on 695 when the shooting occurred to call police with any information. So far the police department has not received any substantial tips, Peach said.

“A lot of people are pointing toward the State Highway Administration video cameras, but they are very grainy and will be of little evidentiary value to us,” Peach said. “It’s just too distant, too grainy looking – we wouldn’t be able to get very much out of that at all.”

Sunday’s shooting was the latest road rage incident in the Baltimore area that resulted in a serious injury. During fiscal 2017, 638 citations were issued for aggressive driving, according to notes on a bill in the Maryland General Assembly aimed at curbing aggressive driving. HB 881 passed the House of Delegates but died in the Senate.

Aggressive driving led to 4,305 crashes in Maryland in 2016, according to the memo. Of those accidents, 2,615 resulted in property damage, 1,653 resulted in injuries and 37 people died.

Sunday’s shooting followed an early August shooting in South Baltimore that police said was a possible road-rage incident, where a man was found shot in a pickup truck near the Potee Street exit on Interstate 895.

The man told police he was driving south on I-895 when he became involved in a road rage encounter with the driver of a dark Infiniti car, according to the Maryland Transportation Authority. The victim was shot through his driver’s side window before stopping at Potee Street, police said.

In July 2017, two people were arrested in Baltimore County following a road rage incident that began near Washington, D.C. A 911 caller reported someone pointed a handgun at another vehicle on Interstate 495 and Interstate 95, in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, police said. A couple was arrested after a traffic stop on I-695, where police recovered two loaded pistols, magazines, ammunition for the guns and marijuana. A 2-year-old child was also in the car.

And in another incident in June 2017, a man was run over and assaulted on I-95 in Harford County.

Motorists can be charged with aggressive driving — an offense that carries fines and license points — if they are observed with at least three violations, including overtaking and passing other drivers, passing on the right, following too closely, failing to yield the right of way or speeding.

“The senseless incident yesterday is yet another unfortunate example of how anger on the roads can escalate to uncontrollable rage, with the tragic ending leading to violence,” Ragina C. Averella, a spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said in an emailed statement. “This incident is particularly troubling, as reports indicate the driver who was shot wasn’t in fact involved in the initial dispute between drivers of two other vehicles.”

AAA Mid-Atlantic offered a few tips to minimize road-rage confrontations:

  • Drivers should get out of the way of other drivers who challenge them.
  • They should not make obscene gestures or exit their vehicles.
  • Drivers should use their horns sparingly and avoid unnecessary use of high-beam headlights.
  • They should not block passing lanes.

Peach said anyone who becomes a target of road rage should drive to the nearest police station.

“Everyone needs to follow the rules of the road, but when you come across an aggressive driver, it is important not to engage with that aggressive driver, and if need be, exit the roadway onto a different road,” Peach said. “If they follow you because they are a more confrontational driver, then it’s best to drive to the closest police precinct.”

smeehan@baltsun.com

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