Tuesday, December 04, 2012

TOP STORY >> Road rage ends with trip to jail

Leader staff writer

A Ward man was arrested on Nov. 27 after beating a man into unconsciousness, sending him to the hospital after a vicious road rage fight in Cabot.

Police were called at 1:57 p.m. to the Sinclair gas station on 3001 South Hwy. 89.

They found a 60-year-old Cabot man in the parking lot on his hands and knees. His face and head were covered in blood. He appeared to be suffering from several facial injuries and an injury to the back of his head. The victim did not know what happened and did not know where he was.

Witnesses reported seeing Gary Stotts, 41, driving a black 1994 Ford pickup westbound on Mount Carmel Road. It appeared Stotts was trying to avoid the red light at Hwy. 89 and Hwy. 321 and cut through the gas station parking lot. Stotts drove through the lot and almost struck two men near the gas pumps. It is believed the victim said something to Stotts as the truck passed them.

Security footage from the gas station showed Stotts stopped his truck. He and the victim approached each other. Stotts punched the victim in the face, knocked him to the ground and began hitting him. Then Stotts’ girlfriend approached Stotts.

The victim got up and picked up a piece of his cell phone or car keys. He walked toward Stotts to pick up another item off the ground. Stotts hit the victim again, wrestled him to ground and hit him in the head several more times until the victim appeared to be unconscious. Stotts fled in the truck with his girlfriend.

Witnesses reported the woman told Stotts to quit hitting the victim.

One witness told police he believed Stotts was “trying to kill the man” and hit the victim “while he was unconscious with three of the hardest blows he had ever seen.”

The victim was transported by MEMS to University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences for treatment. According to the victim’s wife, the man had several facial fractures, a broken nose and was waiting to see a doctor about his vision. She thought he would have to have surgery due to the attack.

A witness followed Stotts’ truck to an address on Harris Road in Lonoke County and called Cabot police. The Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office located the truck at 33 Harris Road.

Authorities tried to make contact with the residents, but no one would open the door. Police towed the truck from the scene.

After 50 minutes, Stotts’ girlfriend came outside and said she lived at the home. She allowed authorities to search inside the house. She said Stotts was in a back bedroom and told her not to leave. She said she did not know why Stotts attacked the victim.

Police entered the back bedroom and found Stotts hiding between the mattress and the box spring. He was arrested without incident and transported to the Cabot Police Department.

While being transported to the police department, Stotts said he was defending himself and said “the old man hit him first.” He said he did not know the victim. Stotts declined to make a written statement but requested information on filing charges against the victim.

Stotts was charged with felony second-degree battery.

Sgt. Keith Graham said in his nine years of working in Cabot he has never seen road rage elevate to the severity of the attack.

His advice for people who might encounter a road rage incident. “...call 911. Try to get a description and the license plate number. Do not confront them if they are following you. We’ll go talk to the people. Go to a well-lit safe place or drive to the local police department,” Graham said.