Road rage and guns can be a lethal combination here in South Florida. The frequency of these incidents has more than doubled since 2014.
Florida and Texas which are states with the largest number of relaxed gun laws, and concealed carry permit holders lead the way according to the available data.
Just last month a Fort Lauderdale man was arrested after being accused of pointing a loaded gun at the passenger of another vehicle while driving on the US1 Overseas Highway in Key Largo.
Thankfully, in this case, no shots were fired.
According to the 911 call a man later identified as Kamaron Mathis was erratically driving his Chevy van early in the morning while flashing his Brights at a car whose passenger made the call to police emergency.
Kayla McFarland of Vero Beach called in what she determined to be a threat in the early morning hours at approximately 4:45 AM while being driven by Nico Lagios in his Kia Soul as they were heading south on US Highway 1 in the area of mile marker 109.
Neither one of the couple in the targeted vehicle seemed to understand what caused the angry incident that could have led to a deadly outcome.
Police responding to the call caught up with Mathis about 6 miles further south. A vehicle fitting the description given by McFarland was first spotted by a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who was quickly joined by a Sheriff’s Deputy whose combined effort was able to stop the van without incident.
Florida Highway Patrolman Cody Kerns engaged Mathis and a passenger in the van who said he (the passenger) was sleeping through the alleged incident. While questioning Mathis, Kerns found an empty handgun holster on the belt of Mathis’s pants when he patted him down but was told by the subject that he didn’t point a gun as was charged by the complainant.
Searching the vehicle produced a loaded Smith and Wesson 9mm handgun in the back of the van according to a Monroe County a spokeswoman.
Mathis was arrested and later charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in what police are describing as a road rage incident. He was held at the Plantation Key jail without bail.
Earlier last month in a separate incident, Scott Moore of Oakland Park was also arrested on the same charge for an incident that took place in February.
In a seemingly “close call” event it is alleged that Moore stopped his vehicle, approached the other driver and his passenger and pointed a semi-automatic handgun at them while he allegedly screamed racial slurs at them.
Apparently fearing for their lives the allegedly under siege couple drove to a nearby gas station and called 911. The alleged protagonist was said to follow them to the service station, continue yelling the slurs and pointed his gun at them a second time.
As Moore left the scene, the couple was able to obtain his license plate number which eventually led police to link Moore to his vehicle. They later also picked him out of a photo array in March.
At his court appearance last month, Moore’s attorney said the incident is a “he said, she said” situation and the supposed victim was the antagonist of the apparent road rage incident. He also said that Moore does not and has never owned a gun.
At the time of that court appearance Moore was being held at the Broward County Jail on $5,000 bond.
Although aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is a serious charge with what could amount to severe penalties, the outcome of these two cases will be somewhat different regarding the sentencing, if any is determined.
In early February of this year, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that will end mandatory minimum sentences for pointing a gun as part of Florida’s 10-20-Life previous firearms law.
The new law will go into effect next month which will most likely be before the conclusions of the two above-mentioned cases are determined.
To read more about this new law and other charges associated with firearm infractions, click here to read about it on my Website.
Michael B. Cohen is a highly experienced criminal defense attorney with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach County.