By Kevin Hogencamp
Leesburg resident Barry Henry concedes that he has road rage from time to time.
But Henry says he was one-upped on Monday by a man who flashed his gun at him during rush hour Monday on the Liberty Expressway in Albany.
As a result of a Facebook discussion started Mondays by Henry’s wife after the incident, authorities are investigating three road-rage cases on the Bypass near Jefferson Street, including the incident involving Henry.
In each case, the enraged driver seemed to attempt to cause an accident with the motorist behind him by slamming his automobile’s brakes. Henry’s was the only incident of the three involving a gun.
“After that happened, I got up beside him, looked over at him, and asked him what the hell was going on and he was holding a pistol, basically cussing me out,” Henry said. “He basically kept messing with me until I excited at Blaylock (Street).”
The other incidents occurred in June 2010 and last week. The motorist in the 2010 incident was driving a green Kia Rio with a Lee County license tag; both of this month’s incidents involved a new Jeep Cherokee with U.S. Marine Corps markings.
The victims said that in each case, the road-rage driver was a white man with a very short haircut, possibly military style, driving a vehicle had Marine Corps markings; and that in two of the cases, the enraged driver attempted to force the other motorist – both females — off the road.
Two of the incidents occurred during the morning; one in the afternoon.
Kimberly Powell, who was involved in the May 2010 incident, said “it was by sheer miracle that this driver did not cause a serious accident.”
“Evidently it angered him that I had gotten behind him and he proceeded to
come to a complete standstill in the fast lane on the Liberty Expressway just past the Blaylock exit and Flint Equipment,” Powell said. “Although I was not tailgating this person, I did lock my brakes down and squeal my tires due to his sudden stop after going 65-plus mph. Cars behind me were forced to swerve into the slow lane in between traffic to prevent ramming into the back of my vehicle.”
Powell said that later, closer to Oglethorpe Boulevard, “he rode beside me, never passing in front of me nor allowing me to pass him (and) twice he weaved into my lane as if he was going to run me off the road.”
Powell said that she saw the car involved in her incident again on the Bypass in January 2011 and took a photograph with her cell phone.
The motorist involved in last week’s incident asked not to be identified due to her fear of being retaliated against.
On Tuesday, MCLB and Albany police began looking into the complaints.
“We are currently looking into the issue to see if the vehicle (in the 2010 case) is registered on base,” said base spokesman Kyle Thomas. “We cannot give you an official comment due to the fact that the situation still falls within the realm of hearsay. No one has been formally charged or even personally identified.
“Anyone that experiences a situation such as this should file a police report within the jurisdiction that they’re in, which would be in this case, the Albany Police Department.”
Albany police spokesman Phyllis Banks said that her agency was notified of the matter Tuesday by MCLB authorities.
“Road rage” was coined as a term for aggressive driving in the 1980s by Los Angeles newscasters describing a rash of freeway shootings. The shootings spawned a response from the AAA Motor Club to its members on how to respond to drivers with road rage or aggressive maneuvers and gesture.