PIERCE COUNTY, Wash. – South Sound law enforcement continue to investigate a road rage incident that ended with a 48-year-old man being shot and killed.
The incident happened Wednesday night after 5 p.m. and occurred between Fircrest and Steilacoom.
While detectives continue interviewing witnesses and developing the case, deputies say the man who pulled the trigger may have been defending himself.
The Washington State Patrol says the number of road range incidents involving guns is on the rise.
Detectives from the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department says Wednesday night’s incident was both tragic and likely avoidable.
“The worst possible thing that could happen, happened,” said PCSD Detective Ed Troyer.
Deputies responded to a shooting along Chambers Creek Road and discovered a man had been shot. First responders tried to save him, but he didn’t survive.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner identified him as 48-year-old Darek Williams from DuPont.
“None of this had to happen,” said Troyer. “He could have just driven home, he’s less than ten minutes away.”
Deputies say Williams, for reasons still under investigation, stopped his truck in the middle of the road and pulled out a firearm. Another man, a 42-year-old from Steilacoom riding as a passenger in another truck, got out and pulled his own weapon.
That man claims Williams pointed his gun and that’s when he fired his own weapon, killing Williams.
“They would have met on some other day they would probably be friends,” said Troyer.
Williams leaves behind a wife and two children. His family says he served his country for more than two decades in the Army. A family spokesperson says Darek had a contagious smile.
A spokesperson for Williams’ family shared a statement with Q13 News:
Our lives were forever altered on Jan 15, 2020. We are still in a state of shock at the death of Darek. He was a loving husband, a doting father, a son, a brother and a great friend. His death has left an unimaginable hole in so many people’s lives. Because this is an ongoing investigation, we are unaware of details but can say that from what we have seen in the media of the events this is not the Darek we know and love. We are hopeful at the conclusion of this investigation we will have answers that will help us gain some closure to this horrible tragedy. Darek served our country for 23 years in the Army; he loved his family and our country. He had a contagious smile; you couldn’t help but smile just from seeing his. That is the Darek we want everyone to know and remember. We appreciate the love and support from our community and your prayers are being felt. Please continue to respect the privacy of the family at this time.
State Troopers tell Q13 News the agency has responded to a spike in the number of road rage incidents that have involved firearms.
Troopers are encouraging anyone who might feel threatened while behind the wheel to do their best to de-escalate the situation and call 911 if they feel they are in danger.
Sheriff’s deputies say the man who shot and killed Williams is cooperating with detectives and has not been arrested.
A charging decision will have to come from the county prosecutor.
The incident remains under investigation and sheriff’s deputies urge drivers to be careful not to escalate an argument into violence.
“If you get out of a vehicle with a gun in traffic, there’s a good chance somebody else is going to have a weapon,” said Troyer.