St John Motorist charged with intimidation and pointing a firearm in connection with road rage incident

A motorist was charged with two felonies in connection with a road rage incident on Indian Boundary Road on Sunday, April 7, the Chesterton Police Department said.

According to the CPD, at 3 p.m. Cpl. Jacob Ray was en route to the 500 block of Indian Boundary Road to investigate a report of a verbal disturbance, when he witnessed a minor traffic accident at the intersection of Indian Boundary Road and North Calumet Road.

The parties involved in the accident proved to be the same ones earlier reported to be arguing in the 500 block of Indian Boundary Road, the CPD said.

Cpl. Arwen LaMotte and Officer Trent Wracker joined Ray at the scene, where the respective drivers “were engaged in a heated argument,” the CPD said. Officers subsequently determined, from the drivers’ statements and video evidence, that the incident “stemmed from a road rage altercation.”

A Chesterton resident advised the following, the CPD said: That he’d been driving a Jeep Cherokee on eastbound Indian Boundary Road when the driver in front of him executed “an unexpected maneuver,” forcing him to “brake suddenly”; the driver behind him, in a GMC Sierra pickup truck, honked the horn; and in response he “flipped the bird” at the driver in the pickup.

The altercation continued outside a nearby business before escalating as both vehicles turned left onto northbound Ind. 49, where the Sierra’s driver allegedly brandished a firearm, pointing it at the Jeep and its occupants before making a U-turn onto southbound Ind. 49, turning right onto Indian Boundary Road, and heading westbound.

The Chesterton resident in the Jeep called 911 and followed, the CPD said.

At the intersection of North Calumet Road and Indian Boundary Road, the Sierra’s driver reversed his vehicle, hitting the Jeep as Ray arrived at the scene, the CPD said.

Based on interviews with both drivers and witnesses to the incident, in addition to video and physical evidence, the Sierra’s driver, Jay W. Harris Jr., 32, of St. John, was charged with intimidation with a deadly weapon, a Level 5 felony punishable by a term of one to six years; and pointing a firearm, a Level 6 felony punishable by a term of six to 30 months.

Harris was transported to Porter County Jail.

“I want to commend the swift action taken by the CPD’s officers, who promptly and professionally intervened in this incident before it could escalate,” Police Chief Tim Richardson said. “I also want to emphasize the importance of patience and composure while driving and to urge the motoring public always to prioritize safety. In the event of encountering an erratic, aggressive, or dangerous driver, it’s best to make note of the license plate number and vehicle details and then notify law enforcement without attempting to pursue or engage in any confrontation.”

Anyone who witnessed this incident or may have video footage of it is asked to contact Cpl. Arwen LaMotte at 219-926-1136.

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