Van Zandt County investigator claims suspect fired gun recklessly in fatal I-20 incident
VAN ZANDT COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - An affidavit describes the altercation that allegedly took place between two vehicles in a road rage incident that left one woman dead and an 18-wheeler driver accused of murder.
Caitlin Elizabeth, 31, of Louisiana, was killed in what is believed to be a road rage shooting on I-20 in Van Zandt County Tuesday. Jason Rashad Williams, 46, of Danville, Illinois, was driving an 18-wheeler when he allegedly opened fire on the vehicle carrying Elizabeth, two female family members and a baby. Elizabeth was struck by the gunfire and pronounced dead at the scene.
An affidavit from the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office gives more detail on what authorities found as they responded to the scene.
The affidavit states a 911 call was received at about 1:20 p.m. on Sept. 19, indicating a woman had been shot near the 521 eastbound mile marker on I-20. The caller said her sister had been shot by a man driving an 18-wheeler, which kept driving after the incident.
Deputies responded and witnessed a woman lying face down across the center console, sitting in the front passenger seat with her upper body draped toward the back seats, the affidavit said. They attempted to provide medical help, but could not locate a pulse, the document states.
At about 1:39 p.m., Van Zandt County Pct. 4 Constable Pat Jordan heard dispatch report a description of the suspect vehicle and conducted a traffic stop on a matching 18-wheeler. The affidavit says the driver, Williams, existed the truck cab with a Springfield XDS .45 caliber pistol and an extra magazine holstered on his hip, containing seven rounds. The pistol reportedly had one round in the camber and four in the magazine. Jordan read Willians his miranda rights, the affidavit claims, then asked if he had been in an altercation with anyone prior to the traffic stop. Williams said he had been in an altercation with a female subject in a white car about 20 miles before the traffic stop, according to the affidavit.
Williams said he had changed lanes, when a white car approached the driver side of his cab and he heard a woman yelling at him, the affidavit states. Williams claimed he rolled down his window and heard her yell “What are you doing? What’s wrong with you?” from inside the white car. Williams said he started to roll his window up, when he saw the woman throw a drink at him. Jordan asked Williams if he had his weapon out at the time, the affidavit describes, and Williams said he did but claimed he didn’t shoot it.
According to the affidavit, Williams said he pulled his gun out and placed it on the dashboard of the truck, but insisted, “I’m being honest. I don’t think I shot a round.” He said he didn’t know if the gun went off when he set it down, but all his rounds should be in the gun.
Jordan asked Williams why he pulled the gun out, the affidavit says, and he claimed he had a high-value load in the truck. Williams confirmed the other vehicle in the confrontation was a small Honda with a black woman at the window, according to the document.
Williams was then taken into custody, after drawing the constable’s attention to a badge claiming he had a concealed weapon permit.
Investigators began photographing the scene and interviewing witnesses at about 1:47 p.m. The driver of the Honda said she had seen the 18-wheeler driving erratically on the interstate, the affidavit says. She also described pulling up alongside the truck, as the woman in her passenger seat, Elizabeth, rolled down the window, yelled and threw a drink can. She described instantly hearing a “pop” noise, while at the same time Elizabeth’s body was thrown across the console as if she was attempting to jump into the back seat, the affidavit says. The driver immediately pulled over and called 911 due to the woman in the back seat screaming that Elizabeth had been shot.
The third woman stated the 18-wheeler had cut them off several times and repeated the description of the confrontation through the vehicle window.
Elizabeth’s body was removed from the Honda for further investigation, the affidavit says, and authorities observed she had a bullet wound that passed just below her heart. An ammunition shell was found directly behind her under the passenger-side floor mat, due to the edge of the mat being lifted, the document states. The shell is reported to have appeared to be a hollow-point .45 caliber bullet, matching the ammunition removed from Williams.
When interviewed at the Van Zandt County Sheriff’s Office, Williams allegedly repeated his claim that he doesn’t recall firing his weapon but that it may have accidentally discharged while he was placing it back in his holster from the dash. Williams said he did pull his gun and point it directly at Elizabeth during the altercation, the affidavit claims, but he said at no point did he fire the weapon or remember pulling the trigger. Williams said at no point did he witness anyone in the Honda to have a weapon or threaten him in any way. However, the affidavit says Williams told investigators he carries his gun at all times due to 18-wheeler drivers getting shot at in various states.
A second gun was found in the 18-wheeler when it was searched with a warrant, along with body armor. The affidavit says no bullet holes were observed in the 18-wheeler, which might have supported the claim that the firearm had been accidentally shot through the cab when Williams was attempting to holster it.
The investigator said in the affidavit he believes Williams fired his weapon intentionally and knowingly caused the death of Elizabeth during a road rage incident, recklessly discharging his firearm at the vehicle she was in, placing the other women in the vehicle in immediate danger of serious bodily injury or death as well.
Williams was booked into the Van Zandt County Jail on a charge of murder and three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, with a collective bond of $1,750,000.
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