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Recent Confrontations Highlight Dangers Of Responding To Road Rage

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Tempers have flared behind the wheel in recent days in the Triangle. And the latest case of road rage involves a gun.

Garner police arrested the president of a local chamber of commerce for pulling a pistol on another driver.

A lot of people have been in the same situation -- cruising on the highway, or through an intersection, and someone cuts them off. So they lie on the horn, or maybe make a face or a gesture.

But as two people discovered in Garner Monday night, responding to road rage can be dangerous.

Many people who drive have experienced road rage. How they handle it can mean the difference between life and -- in extreme cases -- death.

"It is best not to be confontational at all," said Capt. Dennis Poteat, of the Raleigh Police Department.

But words led to confrontation Monday night.

Michael Kevin Nelson, who happens to be the president of the Garner Chamber of Commerce, was arrested for allegedly pointing a gun at another couple from inside his SUV on Highway 70. The man and woman said they did not turn right on red, and it apparently angered Nelson.

"It just went on for several miles, at a couple of different intersections," said Garner police spokesman Jon Blum. "During the course of the time, one of the people in the white Ford Excursion pulled out a gun, allegedly displayed a weapon, and pointed it at the people in the other vehicle."

Saturday night, in another case of road rage, a man named Shawn Graham was charged with running over another driver on the side of the road with his tow truck after an argument.

"When people pull off the road, it escalates to shouting or a shoving match," Poteat said, "and it could result in assaultive behavior."

Police said the best advice is to not engage other drivers.

"You do not know where a person is coming from, what their mindset is, what they've been doing," Poteat said. "They could have an illegal weapon. They could have a weapon coming back from a hunting trip."

Said Blum: "I think sometimes the anonymity of being inside a vehicle allows people to behave in certain ways because they can run away. I think the vehicle leads to inappropriate behavior sometimes."

Nelson did not return WRAL's calls or messages Tuesday.

The man and woman who were the alleged victims in Monday's case spoke off-camera. They said Nelson pointed the gun right at them, and they were terrified.


Amanda Lamb, Reporter
Paul Ensslin, Web Editor

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