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Unicoi County man charged in 'classic case of road rage'

June 27th, 2007 12:00 am by JIM WOZNIAK

A Del Rio man was arrested Tuesday after he reportedly pointed a gun at another driver during what a Unicoi County sheriff’s deputy described as a “classic case of road rage” that started in Johnson City and ended here.

James Broxson, 21, had grown impatient driving behind a truck driven by Gene Atkinson, 44, Johnson City, on Interstate 26 in the Boones Creek area, Deputy Gregg Copp said. He said Broxson and another occupant in his truck, who was not charged, cursed and used hand gestures toward Atkinson before Broxson pointed the gun.

Copp said he does not think the gunpointing occurred in Unicoi County but said authorities here became aware of what was transpiring through a cell phone call placed by Atkinson to the 911 center in Erwin.

The incident occurred about 9:45 a.m., and Broxson was arrested at Exit 34 and charged with aggravated assault. He posted a $10,000 bond in the afternoon to be released from the county jail.

“It was a spur-of-the-moment, stupid mistake,” Copp said.

If this had been a case in which the occupants of the two vehicles knew each other, one might conclude that “It could have been some type of vendetta,” he said. “But it wasn’t that. It was a classic case of road rage.”

According to Atkinson’s version of the events, he was driving east on I-26 near Boones Creek when Broxson came up behind him and was about bumper to bumper. Evenutally, Atkinson moved over to the right lane and Broxson’s truck pulled beside him. Broxson and his passenger started making hand gestures and cursing Atkinson before eventually the gun was displayed.

Copp said Atkinson told him he did not return the gestures or the words.

Broxson told Copp that Atkinson was driving about 55 mph, which made him mad. Broxson said he was in a hurry to get from one job in Bristol to another in North Carolina.

When he stopped Broxson, Copp said, he asked him a couple of times whether he had a gun and the man evaded the questions.

Copp ordered Broxson from the truck and found a .40-caliber semi-automatic handgun that essentially matched the description Atkinson had given.

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