Law enforcement officials are investigating the fatal shooting of a Fort Pierce man on S.R. 60 in what is being classified by the sheriff’s office as a “road-rage incident” and what the shooter is calling self-defense.
CONTRIBUTED FROM INDIAN RIVER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Law enforcement officials are investigating the fatal shooting of a Fort Pierce man in what the Sheriff’s Office classified as a ”road rage incident” and what the shooter called self-defense.
Dennis Wayne Hicks, 38, of Fort Pierce, was fatally shot about 7 p.m. Thursday when the driver of a car traveling alongside Hicks in the 5300 block of State Road 60 reached out of his window and fired several shots, according to the Indian RIver County Sheriff’s Office.
The driver then pulled into a parking lot facing the shooting scene and dialed 911, according to Lt. Thom Raulen, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office.
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“I just shot somebody at the corner of S.R. 60 and 53rd Avenue,” the man calmly told dispatchers in a 911 call.
“You shot somebody?” the dispatcher replied.
“Yes, in self-defense,” the man said. “People are panicking.”
The caller, whose identity has not been released by the Sheriff’s Office, said he did not know Hicks, not even his name.
“I had my window down and this guy pulled over and he looked over at me and I looked at him,” the man said.
“He said, ‘What’s your problem?’ And I said, ‘I don’t have a problem. Do you have a problem?’ And he said, ‘I’m gonna put a bullet in your ass.’ And then he reached for something and I had my gun and I opened fire on him,” he said.
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Detectives interviewed the shooter and a woman passenger in the parking lot for several hours before they were released.
Their car and the victim’s car were both taken to the Sheriff’s Office as part of the investigation, Raulen said. The lieutenant would not say whether a firearm was found in Hicks’ car.
“At this point, we don’t have any probable cause to arrest anyone for murder,” said Assistant State Attorney Steve Gosnell, the prosecutor assigned to the case.
Lt. Thomas Raulen, spokesman for the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office, discusses a fatal shooting Thursday night, Nov. 16, 2017, on State Road 60. MARY HELEN MOORE/TCPALM
Officials said the shooter and victim were both traveling east on S.R. 60. The shooter was driving a silver Mazda, and the victim was the sole occupant of a red Toyota, Raulen said.
“It is believed this shooting may have been a result of a road rage incident which began in the area of S.R. 60 and 58th Avenue,” according to a late Thursday news release by the Sheriff’s Office.
Another car was hit by four shots as it traveled west through the traffic light, but a man and his 3-year-old son in that car were not injured, Raulen said.
“Somebody just started firing shots out of the car,” that man said when he called 911. “I’ve got a car full of bullet holes with my 3-year-old in it.”
“Our car was shot!” the boy was heard saying in the background.
Man calls 911 in Indian River County after a road rage incident on S.R. 60 where shots were fired and another man was killed.
CONTRIBUTED FROM INDIAN RIVER COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Although it’s unclear how many shots were fired, Raulen said detectives found a number of shell casings in the roadway.
Gosnell said a range of theoretical explanations — including self-defense — could explain the lack of arrest, but would not comment on the specifics so as not to jeopardize the investigation.
“With any murder, you have to look at all aspects of the case,” he said Friday. “Investigators are following up on stuff today and the investigation continues.”
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Who was Dennis Wayne Hicks?
Court records showed Hicks, the victim, had two young daughters, one 3 years old and one 5. He had their names tattooed on his shoulders, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
He was born in North Carolina and resided for the past several decades in Indian River and St. Lucie counties, records showed.
Hicks was arrested 16 times in Florida in the past 20 years, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Courts have granted two domestic violence protective orders against Hicks since 2012. Five others have been denied or dismissed in the same time frame.
Hicks most recently spent more than 120 days in jail after multiple violations of probation connected to a 2015 grand theft conviction. He was found June 9, 2016 in a hotel room with a .22-caliber pistol, a crack pipe, syringes and other drug paraphernalia, according to an Indian River County arrest affidavit.
Hicks was released July 7 from Indian River County Jail.
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Road rage incidents involving guns
There have been several incidents involving guns this year law enforcement officials have deemed “road rage,” including:
- A Port St. Lucie man was arrested in May after Stuart police said he pointed a gun at a motorist’s head while driving, then fled.
- Martin County deputies arrested a 23-year-old Stuart man in July after they said he followed and assaulted a man who pulled a gun on him before stepping back and calling authorities.
- Fellsmere police arrested a 24-year-old Palm Bay man who they said pointed a gun at another motorist’s head in June.
- A Georgia man was arrested in June and charged with attempted second-degree murder, after Florida Highway Patrol said he shot at a vehicle on Florida’s Turnpike in Osceola County.
The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office encouraged witnesses and anyone with additional information to contact Detective Ismael Hau at 772-978-6113 or the agency’s main number, 772-569-6700.
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