A 42-year-old Tacoma man allegedly shot at another driver on Interstate 5 Saturday, then led five officers from three jurisdictions on a high-speed chase into King County.
It started about 2:15 p.m., when a 34-year-old man driving north on I-5 near the Tacoma Dome called 911 to report a road-rage incident.
“He initially said a guy in another vehicle had showed a gun to him while driving,” said Washington State Trooper Cliff Pratt. “But that very quickly escalated.”
While on the phone with an emergency dispatcher, the caller said the other driver had shot out his back window.
“Then, he said that he thought he’d been struck in the back with a bullet,” Pratt said.
Despite a dispatcher’s advice against it, the victim got behind the suspect’s gray Ford Escape and followed it off an exit near Fife, Pratt said. The two men confronted each other just off the freeway, when the alleged shooter again pulled out his gun. The man drove off just as two Fife police cars arrived, Pratt said.
The two officers gave chase and were quickly joined by a state trooper. Sometime after the man drove across the county line, two King County Sheriff’s deputies picked up the pursuit, and the Fife officers dropped out, Pratt said.
The chase ended after the trooper performed a Performance Intervention Technique maneuver, spinning the fleeing vehicle out at Weyerhaeuser Way South and South 349th Street in Federal Way. The deputies then helped the trooper box the suspect’s car in with their vehicles, Pratt said.
“He pretty much gave up at that point,” Pratt said.
The man was arrested on suspicion of felony eluding police, multiple counts related to the alleged shooting and suspicion of driving under the influence, Pratt said. Detectives still were trying to figure out what sparked the incident late Saturday, Pratt added.
In the end, the victim had been mistaken that he’d been shot.
“I can understand how with all that was going on, he may have thought that,” Pratt said. “But he had no injuries whatsoever.”
Authorities strongly advise against pursuing aggressive drivers, he added.
“It’s definitely not something we’d recommend, particularly with what happened today,” Pratt said. “If someone is obviously willing to shoot at you, it’s just not a good idea to follow them.”