STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — A woman and her six year old daughter somehow escaped horror on the highway last week--the mom describes it as “a barrage of gunfire” aimed at her SUV as she was driving on Stone Mountain Freeway.
Then the shooter just sped away.
“I was driving in the fast lane,” the mom, who asked not to be identified, told 11Alive Thursday.
She said a driver pulled up behind her and began flashing his brights at her.
It was about 9:30 p.m., June 1, eastbound, approaching Exit 9—West Park Place Boulevard.
“The guy was mad, I was driving too slow for him,” and she said she began to change lanes to the right, but the driver pulled around her and began brake-checking her.
Then she said she braked and tried to exit, but he got behind her again-- and suddenly opened fire into the back and passenger side of her SUV.
“I thought at first he had somehow thrown a rock or glass bottle into my right side, so I’m trying to get away and he veers over to my left and just shoots up the driver’s side of the SUV, and he just takes off,” the mother described.
She was able to pull to the side and park. Her only thoughts were of her daughter, adding "I’m just touching her, I didn’t even realize I was shot, I just kept touching her body, trying to make sure she had not been shot.”
She called 911, and realized fragments had injured her left foot. She went to a hospital for emergency treatment. Now, walking is painful, she said, still recovering at home.
Gwinnett County Police found the 9mm shell casings along that stretch of Stone Mountain Freeway near Exit 9; her SUV had been struck with six bullets.
“No telling how many he shot,” she said, “but it was six in my car.”
She told police she did not get a good description of the gunman’s car but it was possibly a dark green sedan. Additionally, she couldn’t tell how many people were in the car.
Police said “road rage” continues to be an ever-present threat in metro Atlanta and everywhere else.
A Stone Mountain man, Charles Adams, shopping near the scene of last week’s shooting, said he often drives on Stone Mountain Freeway, and said he and his wife are always worried for each other when they’re out. He’s afraid “road rage” is an unsolvable crime.
“It’s going to be hard to find (the shooter) unless somebody knows that he told them he did it,” Adams said, “and then that’s the only way they’re going to catch him.”
Gwinnett County Police Corporal Ryan Winderweedle said detectives are asking for help from anyone who might know the gunman.
“Having some dashcam footage would be very beneficial in this case, having a tag number that somebody may have seen, even a vehicle description...if anyone saw any kind of erratic driving there... anything like that would put detectives closer to solving it,” he explained.
The mom is grateful she and her daughter survived, relieved that the gunman who wouldn’t let her get out of his way didn’t kill them.
The responding police officer wrote in his incident report that when he arrived, the mom and her daughter “appeared to be truly stricken with fear, they were both crying uncontrollable tears and were on the verge of a panic/anxiety attack.... I believe that (the daughter) was placed in excruciating mental, physical and emotional pain from seeing her mother in such a state, and in turn, also being subjected to the gunfire that would have surrounded her and overwhelmed her.”
On Thursday, the mom said that they are trying to heal from the terror of it all.
“I’m just scared,” she said, “I’m happy for us to be alive, but it’s really, really scary. I just pray that someone will come forward with tips” to catch him.
Police said charges against the gunman could include aggravated assault, aggravated battery, criminal damage to property, and cruelty to children, among other crimes.