By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter
CHEHALIS – It’s been a year since a driver on Interstate 5 fired a handgun at least once, sending a bullet through the rear window of the car ahead of him, busting a hole through the top left corner of its rearview mirror and then piercing the windshield.
“It came really close, really close, to the driver,” Washington State Patrol Trooper Will Finn said.
The shooter has yet to be identified and law enforcement is once again reaching out to the public for information, in hopes of making an arrest.
“Even sometimes it’s the littlest things people tell us that can help us crack the case,” Finn said.
It happened around 11 a.m. on December 30, 2015, a Wednesday, during a road rage incident and chase that took place southbound in the 13-mile stretch north of Chehalis.
The victim driver escaped injury. The rear window of his silverish-gray four-door Mazda hatchback was shattered when he pulled into the parking lot at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center in Chehalis to call 911.
Finn said they only got a couple of calls at the time and since, have followed up on one anonymous tip about who the shooter might be. It wasn’t him, he said.
The crime lab tested the glass and confirmed gunshot residue, he said.
The shooter was driving a black, mid 2000s base-model Jeep Cherokee with non-tinted windows and Washington license plates. He is believed to have exited the freeway somewhere between milepost 80 and milepost 76.
Its driver was described as a white male in his 60s to 70s with gray hair and a gray or white beard. He had a passenger described as a white female in her 80s, wearing a red shirt with an oxygen tube in her nose.
The encounter actually began in south Thurston County around milepost 93 or the Scatter Creek Rest Area. Finn said the victim, a 25-year-old man from Spanaway, was driving in the fast lane and when he came up on the Jeep, got “brake checked.”
“The victim admitted to partaking in behavior, brake checks back and forth,” Finn said. “But the other driver took it to a whole other level.”
They were traveling in and out of traffic at speeds of 85 to 90 mph, Finn said at the time.
Anyone with any information about the driver or the passenger, or if they witnessed it, we’d like them to call in, Finn said.
“As police officers, we don’t like cold cases, things to go unsolved,” he said.
Detective Jen Ortiz can be reached at 360-449-7948.
For background, read “Interstate 5 shooter remains at large” from Wednesday January 6, 2016, here