Man arrested in road rage incident

Police say man fired twice at victim

Published On: Mar 29 2013 11:03:09 PM EDT   Updated On: Mar 30 2013 07:50:17 PM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Police say a 45-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly shot at another vehicle on Friday.

Police said they responded to a report of shots fired at the intersection of W. Ashley Street and N. Jefferson Street.

The victim of the vehicle was found and advised that he had been shot at while driving his car. Police said damage to his vehicle was consistent with his account.

A JSO K9 officer had stopped the suspect, 45-year-old Stephen Merritt, after being alerted and hearing gunshots outside of the JSO Canine facility and seeing the vehicle flee the area.

Police said the vehicle was occupied by Merritt and another passenger.

Officials said a shell casing was recovered from the roadway in the 1000 block of W. Monroe Street, adjacent to the JSO Canine facility.

An investigation revealed Merritt was riding in his truck when a cab driver cut him off in traffic. He admitted to police that he had shot at the victim with his .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Police said Merritt became angry and sped up to get in front of the cab so he could cut the cab driver off and slow down. Merritt said as he was about to take an off ramp, something hit the side of his truck. He never saw the victim with a gun, but assumed that he had been shot at by the victim.

Officials said the victim sped away and the suspect chased after him. Merritt said he intended only to get the tag number of the cab, but he retrieved his firearm from behind the seat, "Just in case."

He sped up to catch up to the victim and when he got near the victim's vehicle Merritt told police he saw the victim raise an empty hand. Merritt put his gun out the driver's window and fired twice at the victim because he, "Didn't want to give him another shot."

Though Merritt saw a marked police unit behind him at a distance with his lights on, police said he continued to flee the area because he was "gonna dip" ("meaning that he was just trying to get away").

Merritt stated the passenger had no involvement in the incident. The passenger stated he was cut off in traffic by the cab driver so the driver got in front of the cab to cut him off.

According to police, the passenger said the victim threw something at the truck, striking it. He never saw the victim with a gun. He became frightened when the driver began speeding down the road to catch up with the cab again. He saw Merritt pull out his .45 caliber pistol and shoot at the cab.

Police said the victim identified the suspect, Stephen Merritt, as the person who was driving the truck and shot at him. The victim denied throwing anything at the suspect's vehicle.

Merritt was placed under arrest for aggravated assault, shooting deadly missiles, and criminal mischief, and transported to jail.