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Shots fired during road rage incident on Turnpike

7:09 PM, Dec 18, 2013   |    comments
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LAKE CO., Fla. -- One man was arrested as an investigation continues into a road rage incident along the Florida Turnpike.

Authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol said there were children in both cars, which is one of the reasons why the case could have turned out much worse.

Investigators said bullets were flying on the Turnpike at one point.

"(We) have some sort of road rage incident where they're feeling that the other driver is doing something wrong," Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Kim Montes said.

Officials said the driver of a white car, Phillip Mautz, 50, of Michigan, and the driver of a red Jeep Liberty had a disagreement on the highway.

Troopers said the two drivers ended up stopped on the Turnpike and out of their cars.

"We believe that the suspect struck the victim, punched him in the face, knocked him down, and as the suspect was returning to his vehicle, the victim took out a weapon that he had placed upon him for protection and fired two shots in the direction of the suspect, thankfully not hitting him," Montes said.

Both drivers claimed their actions were done in self-defense. In a police report, Mautz said when he walked back, the driver of the Jeep "got all crazy and everything, pulled a weapon, and I hit him in the face and ran back to my car and drove away."

The driver of the Jeep told authorities, "(I) didn't know if he was going back to his car to get a gun ... I'm afraid I'm going to get into trouble for defending my life."

Troopers said they'll forward all the facts to the State Attorney's Office.

So far, only Mautz faces accusations of battery and improper display of a badge.

The Jeep driver said the thought he saw a badge, and officials said Mautz had a badge in his car and said he was a fire investigator.

"In both of these vehicles, we had children, who thankfully didn't get caught up in this mess," Montes said.

Authorities said both men had guns in their vehicles even though only one was displayed.

Troopers said they're aware how much of a rush people get in around the holidays, and they ask all motorists to try to remain calm.

WESH

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