A man on a day trip with his partner was fatally shot last week in a suspected road rage incident in Oregon, police said.
Oregon State Police responded to reports of a shooting on Oregon Route 18 in Polk County at around 9 p.m. July 13, according to the agency.
Dennis Gerard Anderson, 45, was declared dead at the scene, state police said. A passenger in his vehicle, identified by police as Brandy Dawn Goldsbury, 46, was unharmed.
Goldsbury, the victim's partner of 18 years, said she and Anderson had been traveling for a day trip to Lincoln City after a week of Covid-19 quarantining, according to The Oregonian.
The pair were driving back to their Tigard home when they noticed a driver in a car trying to pass them, Goldsbury told the newspaper.
Around the same time, Anderson sprayed wiper fluid on his windshield, some of which may have gotten on the other driver's car, she said.
The car eventually passed, but Goldsbury said they saw the same vehicle parked on the side of the road when they arrived at a rest area northeast of Otis.
“We drove by it, and then it got behind us,” she said. “And then when the lanes started to turn to one again, the car started driving really close to the back of us — almost like it was going to hit us. And then it would go into oncoming traffic and kind of swerve toward us, like trying to push us to the side of the forest.”
She said that happened a couple of times, prompting her to tell Anderson to pull over and call 911.
Anderson pulled over and got out of the vehicle as Goldsbury dialed, she told the newspaper. That is when, she said, the driver of the other vehicle stopped parallel to them, with police saying shots were fired from the car.
“The last thing that he said was, ‘Oh my god, they shot me',” Goldsbury said of Anderson, who leaves behind two teenage daughters and an adult stepson, according to The Oregonian.
A preliminary investigation found Anderson appeared to have been fatally shot in a "road rage" incident, according to police.
The shots were believed to have been fired by a passenger in the suspect vehicle, which left the scene, officials said.
The vehicle was described as a black BMW 3 Series with a body style similar to a 2006 model and with a round emblem on the hood. The suspect has been described as a younger male appearing to be less than 25 years old.
Officers from multiple agencies responded to the area, but were unable to locate the suspect or the vehicle, Oregon State Police said. One individual matching the description was detained, interviewed and eventually released, according to police.
Detectives are urging anyone with information about the shooting to call Oregon State Police Dispatch at 1-800-452-7888 and reference case number SP22177525.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
Anderson's death comes amid a recent rise in road rage shootings, with more than 500 people in the U.S. killed or wounded in incidents in 2021, the “worst year on record” for gun violence on streets and highways, according to an analysis by Everytown for Gun Safety.
Last year, nearly 400 people were wounded and 130 more were fatally shot during road rage incidents, compared to 225 injured and 68 killed in 2019, according to Everytown, a nonprofit advocating for gun control.
It’s unclear what was behind the rise in violence on the road, but gun-safety advocates have suggested that pandemic-related stressors and record increases in gun purchases could be factors.
Last March, a California father was fatally shot in a road rage incident while his wife and children were in the car, according to officials.
In that case, Marco Lara Jr., 24, had been driving north on Interstate 15 when another driver repeatedly brake-checked him, his wife, Katelyn, told NBC Los Angeles.
He was shot multiple times by an unidentified driver after they both pulled over and got out of their cars on an offramp in Victorville, 40 miles north of San Bernardino, the California Highway Patrol said.
“He stood up for what he thought was right in the moment. He thought he could resolve what was going on with the other car,” his wife said.