Drivers charged in road rage case

By Mary Pat Flaherty and Paul Duggan
Washington Post staff writers
Thursday, March 25, 2010

With his 2-year-old daughter in a car seat inside, Gabriel Poventud of Woodbridge threw open the door of his silver Jaguar on the shoulder of southbound Interstate 95 in Prince William County and fired 13 shots at a dump truck, terrifying Tuesday evening commuters, Virginia State Police said.

Police said Wednesday that Poventud, 25, and the operator of the white Ford truck, James Bringham, 44, also of Woodbridge, drove recklessly and in a rage down a four-mile stretch of highway. The incident happened after the truck merged onto the interstate from Route 123 just south of the Fairfax County line shortly after 4 p.m. and "encountered" the Jaguar, police said.

The truck struck the Jaguar twice before both vehicles wound up on the left shoulder pinned against a Jersey wall, where Poventud began shooting, state police allege. The truck driver headed back into traffic, trailed by the Jaguar, police said, until one of several state troopers at the scene brought the chase to a halt on the right shoulder of I-95 near a weigh station.

Frightened drivers flooded emergency lines with calls, police said.

No one was injured.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Poventud was jailed without bond on five offenses, including attempted homicide and child endangerment, according to state police. Bringham was cited for reckless driving, state police said. Prosecutors said they are considering additional charges.

In a complaint filed in court, a Virginia state trooper wrote that "both drivers stated that Mr. Bringham rammed Mr. Poventud's car. Mr. Poventud then got out of his car and fired 13 rounds from a handgun at the other vehicle."

The trooper said two witnesses who were not involved in the incident said they saw the shooting. "There were twelve bullet impacts to the truck. Four of them would have hit the cab if they had penetrated the dump bed," the complaint stated.

Reached by phone, Bringham said, "I want to talk with my lawyer before I'd make any statement or do an interview."

Poventud's court-appointed attorney, John D. Primeau, declined to comment on the case, in which his client also faces charges of use of a firearm to commit a felony, reckless use of a firearm and shooting a missile into an occupied vehicle, according to state police.

Traffic in that area of I-95, with the Occoquan River to the north and the Marine Corps Base Quantico to the south, was moving at about 30 mph at the time, said Corinne Geller, spokeswoman for the state police.

"You just don't know what you're up against if you get into something with another motorist," Geller said. "This went back to whatever happened on that merge. We tell people: Don't engage with aggressive drivers. Don't give in to that inclination. Let it go."

Staff writers Jennifer Buske and Josh White and staff researcher Meg Smith contributed to this report.

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