Police exhort region drivers to put a brake on aggressiveness

2014-01-20T19:00:00Z 2014-01-21T12:40:04Z Police exhort region drivers to put a brake on aggressivenessBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
January 20, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

Police continue to investigate a second case of gunfire on Interstate 80/94 in a week and are warning the public to put a brake on aggressive driving confrontations.

They said if encountering a confrontation, call 911 instead.

Indiana State Police said a man with dreadlocks and wearing a black sock hat in a red four-door passenger car with dark tinted windows fired a bullet Sunday night into the rear bumper of a 33-year-old Lansing woman's vehicle near the Burr Street interchange in Gary.

She was unhurt.

Police said they also are still are looking for a Jan. 15 shooter, of a different description, who wounded a 48-year-old Valparaiso man near the Ripley Street interchange in Lake Station.

"This is becoming more prevalent, and I don't know what the reason is," Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Monday. "Everybody is in a hurry. But is it worth it?"

Illinois State Trooper Chris Asmar advises motorists to avoid antagonizing an aggressive driver.

"If there's any kind of road rage, slow down, pull over, and call 911 to report it as a reckless driver," Asmar said. "Don't try to make contact or confront someone."

Indiana State Police said the Lansing woman said her incident began 9 p.m. Sunday while she was driving her Chrysler 300 slowly because of numerous potholes on 25th Avenue in Gary. The alleged gunman's car began tailgating her and she braked, she said, hoping to get him to back off.

Instead, it angered him, police said. He pulled in front of her vehicle as they turned off 25th and entered the highway's westbound lanes at Burr Street, then pulled alongside her and fired four to five shots before speeding away.

Valparaiso Police Department Sgt. Michael Grennes said his best advice to avoid road rage incidents is to keep a confrontation from escalating but not trying to re-engage the aggressor.

“A lot of times things like that occur because we don’t want to let things go,” Grennes said.

The Valparaiso man said his experience began 4 p.m. Jan. 15 when he cut in front of a silver or gray Dodge Ram 1500 pickup while exiting southbound Cline Avenue onto eastbound I-80/94.

The Valparaiso man said his upset pickup driver pulled alongside, rolled down his window and began yelling. The Valparaiso man said he sped off to avoid a confrontation, but the assailant caught up and fired a shot that entered his upper back and exited the front of his shoulder.

The shooter, described as a middle-aged man with short hair, then veered his vehicle across all eastbound lanes and fled south on Ripley Street while the victim pull off just east of Ripley Street and called police.

Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said his city experienced a "hideous" case of road rage last summer on Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond when Montrell Moss, 23, of East Chicago, tossed a water cup from his vehicle that splashed a van driven by Edgar Singleton, 61, of Chicago.

Police said Singleton responded with a single shot from a 9 mm handgun, striking Moss in the left side of the neck. Moss died. Singleton is scheduled to be tried on a murder charge next month. He is pleading not guilty.

A 2004 U.S. Department of Transportation study indicated a small team of officers assigned full-time to special enforcement patrols might be more effective than large numbers of officers making occasional sweeps.

Miller said the state provides grants to local police to pursue aggressive and impaired drivers.

"Obviously, it's not 365 days a year. A lack of manpower doesn't allow us to go just after that," Miller said.

"A lot of aggressive driving seems to result from people following too closely and the offended person hits the brakes or someone gets cut off, and the rude blare of the horn and a finger gesture. We try to educate the public that if someone cuts you off or is driving too closely, move over, or if someone makes threatening gestures, make right turns and get out of the situation."

Chesterton Police Lt. Joe Christian said the best option is to just keep going. Calling the police or 911 is fine, but don't get out of the car.

"What I always suggest, is ask yourself, is it really that important to stop and get involved in an altercation?" Christian said. "You never know what you're going to get involved in."

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