The victim was driving on I-5 with a passenger and food in tow, when the suspect pointed the weapon and mouthed, "I am going to (expletive) kill you" after the victim said he drove into the suspect's lane, police said.
Pierce County prosecutors on Tuesday charged Jeffrey Dickerson with second-degree assault, accusing him of intending to hurt the victim with a deadly weapon, as well as making a false or misleading statement to a public official, according to court documents.
The victim was heading to an area near the crash site on Interstate 5 when Dickerson, who was also driving, pointed a handgun and mouthed, “I am going to (expletive) kill you” after the victim said he had merged into Dickerson’s lane, according to court documents and police.
DuPont Police Assistant Chief Ted Jackson said the victim, who was driving with a passenger, called 911. Shortly after, police officers stopped Dickerson on Perimeter Road adjacent to I-5 around 5:30 p.m., according to Jackson and prosecutor’s probable-cause statement.
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The suspect told a police officer he pointed his finger at the victim, not a gun, according to the statement. He also told police that he had a gun in his vehicle but it was in a box and he didn’t have the key, according to the statement.
While police searched the vehicle, Dickerson told them there was an empty holster inside, according to the statement. Dickerson allegedly told police that he got off work early and decided he didn’t want to carry his gun on the ride home, so he took his gun out of his waistband and put away the holster.
Then, according to the statement, he “corrected himself,” saying, “Never mind, I didn’t have the key. No, I didn’t do that.”
Later, the key to the box was found in Dickerson’s shoe and a 9mm, semi-automatic handgun with 15 bullets was recovered, prosecutors said.
“It sounds like a little bit of road rage,” Jackson said.
Dickerson was arraigned Tuesday and release on personal recognizance, according to John Nourse, spokesman for the Pierce County prosecutor.
About 70 people suffered injuries, many requiring hospitalization.
Federal transportation officials have yet to determine what caused the crash, though they have said an engineer never applied the emergency brakes and the train was traveling 50 mph faster than the posted speed limit.
After the derailment, county and state agencies from throughout Western Washington went to the Amtrak train-crash site, while passengers escaped by breaking windows and pushing through debris. Drivers on the freeway were halted, some of them injured by falling train cars. Witnesses raced to pull people from the wreckage and give first aid.
The southbound interstate remained closed to traffic for roughly 62 hours, while state workers and contractors hoisted the derailed train cars and a 270,000-pound locomotive onto trucks and hauled them away. All lanes opened about 9:45 p.m. Wednesday.