RALEIGH, N.C. — In a violent case of road rage, a man chased down drivers, hit their cars, and in one case, shot at people and robbed them, police said.
The man who police said was behind the incidents appeared in court Friday. Investigators also released 911 tapes from moments before one accident.
The series of events unfolded quickly early Thursday evening. In a matter of 24 minutes, three cars were damaged.
In the first incident, a young couple said they were hit by a car on Wake Forest Road, then shot at by the driver.
"I literally close my eyes and I can see him with a gun shooting at me," said one of the alleged victims. "I didn't sleep last night. It's probably been the most horrifying experience of my life."
The couple used the tires of their truck as a shield. Police said Joel Ortiz kept attacking at them, eventually robbing them.
The couple said their attacker told them to drive away. When they did, he allegedly followed them on the Beltline before getting off on Six Forks Road.
"I don't know what he was doing, really, he was out of it," said the driver.
At a Comfort Inn at North Hills, a man said he saw Ortiz waving a gun at him from his rear view mirror. The paralegal student tried to flee, but the man said Ortiz pursued him.
The man eventually turned onto Millbrook Road and crashed his car into a tree on Daywood Drive. The victim said even after he crashed his car, Ortiz wouldn't give up on him. He was hurt and bleeding when Ortiz allegedly fired a shot at him.
From there, police said, Ortiz sideswiped another car on Millbrook near Quail Hollow Drive. According to police reports, the victim and a witness tried to follow Ortiz, but he escaped.
Police arrested Ortiz early Friday morning on traffic, robbery and assault charges.
"I don't think it's possible to explain something like that at least in terms of what you and I would understand," said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue. "What we know is for whatever reason, obviously, a violent string of events all leading back to same suspect."
No one was seriously injured in any of the incidents.
Ortiz was involved in another high-profile incident back in April. Police said he shot a man outside a McDonald's on Capital Boulevard. According to court documents, he received one-year of probation in a plea deal.