A man who was arrested after a road rage incident on the Beltway Wednesday has faced allegations of abusive behavior in the past.
Ernest Stickell, 58, of Mechanicsville, Maryland, was arrested Wednesday after police say he opened fire on another driver in Alexandria, Virginia. That driver, a 33-year-old woman from Bladensburg, Maryland, was shot in the neck and back.
A witness said she saw the drivers honking at each other and then saw the woman driver swerve her SUV in front of the man's van.
"She got out of the vehicle and was screaming. Before she even got out, she was yelling out the window at him as she went by him," the witness said. She asked News4 not to name her or show her face.
"[She] parked the car, and she got out and was screaming profanity, in [a] loud voice, then a gentleman in the passenger side jumped out, and they were both going toward the white vehicle," she continued.
The woman and the man, who News4 learned is the driver's boyfriend, threatened the van driver and challenged him to get out of his car, the witness said.
"He kept telling him, 'Well, bring it out here, get out here, now!'" the witness said.
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"And the next thing I know, I hear five or six gunshots," she said. Stickell has been charged with malicious wounding.
When attorney Vickie Fang heard Stickell had been arrested, she was reminded of a client she represented in 2001. That client had filed a racial harassment suit against Stickell, who was his supervisor at an auto glass company.
Her client alleged that Stickell used racial slurs against him and against customers -- and even against Stickell's own African-American wife.
"In one particularly egregious episode, Stickell placed a picture of a monkey between the pages of a parts manual ... that Spriggs regularly used," court filings say. "Stickell had captioned the picture with X's and O's, along with the notation 'so you'll never forget who you are.'"
“That kind of anger and hostility, I think we call it bullying now," said Fang. "I just thought of him as a sadist, that he would be making the news -- I didn’t think he’d be making it in a good way.”
News4 was not able to reach Stickell for comment.
There have been several road rage incidents in recent weeks in which people were injured or killed.
On Tuesday, a moped driver stabbed another man following a road rage incident in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Police say the victim got into an argument with the moped driver while waiting to turn left on State Route 3. The victim suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
One high-profile road rage incident on a Southern California freeway, between a motorcyclist and a driver, was caught on camera. The resulting crash sent an innocent person to a hospital on June 21, authorities said.
In Northern Virginia, a driver got out of his car and beat 17-year-old Nabra Hassanen to death with a baseball bat, according to police. Hassanen was returning to an all-night prayer session during Ramadan.
Another road rage incident occurred in Philadelphia on June 28. Officials say 28-year-old David Andrew Desper killed 18-year-old Bianca Roberson after she merged lanes at the same time as the suspect.
Anyone with information on the crime in Alexandria is asked to call 703-746-6673.