AUSTIN (KXAN) — After Saturday’s deadly shooting on Interstate 35 that police believe stemmed from a road rage incident, KXAN asked the Austin Police Department whether such incidents have been on the rise in the city.
Anecdotally, KXAN has recently received several reports of road rage incidents from viewers. We’re still waiting on a response from APD to our questions.
However, KXAN spoke with a couple of people impacted by other recent road rage incidents.
One of those was the victim of an incident that recently gained a lot of attention on Reddit, where another driver posted a video of what happened.
In the video, the driver of a maroon Honda Accord can be seen driving aggressively and even stopping to throw a drink at the driver of a black Honda Pilot on I-35. Eventually, the video shows another car that’s bright yellow joining the maroon car in trying to block off the driver of the van.
The victim who was driving the van reached out to KXAN to get his story out.
He says before the recording even began, the driver of the maroon car had already gotten out of his vehicle once to run up and punch the van’s windows.
“This is a whole new level for me. This is something that I’ve never seen before,” said the driver of the van, who did not want to share his name for fear of retaliation.
He says it all started before the camera was recording, when he tried to change lanes at the same time as the aggressor. He called 911 just a few minutes in.
He said from the beginning of the road rage incident until he was able to get away, “it was about 30 to 40 minutes, and no officers showed up.”
He eventually got away from the two cars, which were following him on the I-35 frontage road, by driving through a grassy median back onto the interstate.
Despite the shocking video that shows exactly what happened, APD told KXAN no police report was ever written, and the case was cleared.
The victim says from the conversations he’s had with different people at APD, he does not believe his case is being taken seriously enough.
“The responding officer was talking to me over the phone and told me that this is just considered a road rage incident, and their hands are tied,” he said.
He plans to file another police report, in hopes detectives will use the license plate numbers that can be seen in the video to track the aggressors down.
“If I can speak plainly, people are less concerned about what’s going to happen to them, because the Austin Police Department, in my opinion, has their hands tied Their department is shrinking. Their funding is going away. And people know that they can’t keep up with the calls. I mean, I’ve all but given up on this one,” He said. “The only reason I want to follow up with this is because I need to make sure that people like this aren’t on the road when my kids are on the road.”
In Saturday’s shooting on I-35, a woman was killed. Police later tracked down the suspect at his apartment complex. After a SWAT standoff with him, police were able to arrest him without anyone else getting hurt.
That was the second shooting believed to have stemmed from road rage in Austin in the past few weeks.
Gildardo Martinez told KXAN his father and a passenger were shot in north Austin after his dad couldn’t stop fast enough to let a car that had been cutting people off in front of him. They were hauling a trailer with heavy materials in it behind the truck they were in.
“Whenever you have a heavy trailer, it’s hard to just do a fast break, so he didn’t have another chance, another option but to just keep on going with the traffic,” Martinez explained. “And I’m guessing that’s when the truck got bothered. He was trying to cut people off, and he was trying to keep keep up with my dad. So, since there were trucks next to my dad on the driver’s side, he braked and went to the passenger side, and that’s when he started shooting.”
Martinez’s father was taken to the hospital with what police called life-threatening injuries at the time. Martinez says he was shot in the throat.
Fortunately, he was released from the hospital after spending 10 days there and is now recovering at home. Martinez says the passenger was grazed by a bullet and still has glass in his eyes from bullets going through the truck’s window.
“If he was in a hurry to get somewhere or something, people should just get up earlier,” Martinez said. “There’s no reason for people to use guns for these type of situations. I mean, people usually just shout to themselves inside of the car. But taking out a gun on people in traffic, it could have hit somebody else. What if the car behind him or next my dad had a kid or a whole family?”
Martinez says in his father’s case, police told him they have arrested a suspect.
KXAN will update this story if APD responds to our request for information on recent road rage incidents.