A confrontation between two drivers turned deadly after one pulled out a gun and shot the other in the chest, prosecutors say.
George Howard of Minneapolis was charged in Hennepin County Wednesday with two felony counts of second-degree murder, connected to a fatal shooting on I-94 East Sunday. The criminal complaint alleges he and the victim, 38-year-old Luis Ortiz, got into a "road rage incident" while on the highway's on-ramp, with Ortiz getting out of his car and confronting Howard.
Surveillance footage captured the entire incident, and shows Ortiz at the driver's side door of the white Volvo when he suddenly collapses, at which point Howard drives away, the charges state. The Volvo — registered to Howard — then drives off.
Ortiz can then be seen standing back up, getting into his car and getting on the highway, at which point he crashed into the median near Dowling Avenue North, according to the charges. Minneapolis police officers who responded to the scene found him unresponsive and covered in a large amount of blood in the driver's seat. He had a gunshot wound to his chest and later died at the hospital, according to authorities.
The charges state investigators found additional surveillance footage showing the white Volvo driving to a nearby gas station, then Howard getting out and fleeing the scene on foot. At that point, a person in the passenger seat switches to the driver's side and drives the vehicle to their residence.
Officers spoke with that person (whose dog was in the back seat at the time of the shooting), and they confirmed there was a road rage confrontation, claiming the victim punched Howard — at which point Howard shot him, then fled, the charges state. When Howard came to the witness' home to pick up his vehicle, he told them to tell police someone named "Jerome" was in the back seat, according to the complaint.
Investigators later arrested Howard driving the white Volvo and questioned him. According to the charges, he acknowledged the road rage incident, but said he simply drove off. When confronted with video evidence, Howard then said "Jerome" in the back seat fired the shot, the charges say. When told the surveillance cameras show only a dog in the back seat, Howard said "Jerome" had been lying down in the back the whole time, according to the criminal complaint.
Howard could not provide investigators with a last name, address or phone number for "Jerome," the charges state.
Howard is expected to make his first court appearance at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, the same day he turns 48.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said Ortiz, of Minneapolis, died of a gunshot wound to the chest, ruling his death a homicide.