NewsSarasota, Manatee County


Suspected road rage incident leaves man dead, Sheriff's Office investigating

Posted at 8:25 PM, Apr 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-22 16:47:41-04

PARRISH, Fla. — A 32-year-old man is dead following a suspected road rage incident on Saturday that the Manatee County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate.

Deputies report around 5:15 p.m. the victim was driving eastbound on Buckeye Road as the 26-year-old shooter was traveling westbound.

MANATEE COUNTY NEWS | The latest headlines from Manatee County

The Sheriff's Office says the now-deceased man, later identified by family members as Zachary Barnett, was driving erratically, swerving in and out of his lane. Barnett crossed into the westbound lane, almost hitting the 26-year-old man and eventually running him off the road, deputies say.

"The driver of the vehicle that was traveling eastbound on Buckeye was swerving all over the roadway and almost struck him, he came into his lane, he had to swerve to get out of the way," said Sheriff Rick Wells.

The 26-year-old driver circled back around to follow Barnett in an attempt to get his license plate number, according to the sheriff's office. He thought Barnett might have been under the influence, the sheriff's office says.

The Sheriff's Office says at that point, Barnett pulled off of the road and the other driver pulled up next to him. The two men began arguing, the sheriff's office says.

RECOMMENDED: Police: Florida man arrested after pulling gun on driver who tried to pass him

Barnett exited his vehicle and approached the passenger's side of the 26-year-old man's vehicle, leaning into the open window.

At this point, the Sheriff's Office says the 26-year-old man armed himself with a pistol, pointed it at the other man and told him to back away. Barnett brandished his own weapon.

The 26-year-old fired his weapon and hit Barnett, according to the sheriff's office. He then pulled over, called 911 and waited for authorities to arrive.

"He's shaken. He’s with the investigators right now, giving an interview. He pulled off immediately, called 911 and stayed here until deputies arrived. He has been cooperating with us," Sheriff Wells said Saturday night.

Barnett was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Sheriff's Office announced on Sunday that the shooting was considered a justifiable act of self-defense, however, on Monday, they said they are still investigating and are not 100 percent saying it was self defense. They determined the shooter was a victim of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon prior to the shooting, according to a press release.

Deputies says they believe both men were legally carrying the weapons.