A Columbia family had a close call with a dangerous man after a traffic altercation led to shots being fired.
Police say it started as road rage incident on James Campbell Blvd. According to a police report, the family was trying to turn into the Sonic, not realizing the driveway was closed.
That created tension with another motorist in a black Nissan ExTerra.
According to police, both drivers entered the parking lot next door of the Express Oil Change, and that’s when a man, now identified as Benjamin Weatherford, fired a single shot at the family’s car from point blank range.
The family sped away in fear and called 911. Weatherford also took off.
“We are actually pulled over in the AT&T parking lot and he put a hole in my car,” a woman can be heard saying on the 911 call.
Apr. 8 surveillance footage from the oil change business showed the incident. The footage is grainy and happened in about two seconds. It showed both cars arriving in close proximity just after the traffic altercation.
Police say witnesses in nearby businesses saw a man later identified as the 34-year-old Weatherford, behind the wheel of the black Nissan ExTerra, reach out with his weapon and fire.
Police say Weatherford fired a single shot from point-blank range at the man, age 28, woman, age 30, and child, age 9.
Nobody in the family’s SUV was hit, but the vehicle had a 9 mm hole in the driver’s door.
“You can never tell when a bullet’s fired what it is going to hit,” said Lt. Jeremy Haywood of the Columbia Department says.
Initially, police had no idea who the shooter was. The family says they had never seen the man before.
It was about five hours later that Columbia police developed Weatherford as the prime suspect. That’s when a man was shot in the chest one block from the Columbia Police Department.
Moments before he was sent to the hospital, the victim told police that the man who shot him is Benjamin Weatherford.
Police went to his residence and found a black Nissan ExTerra in the driveway.
“That initially made us as investigators think the two were related or it was the same offender,” said Lt. Haywood.
Police said they searched Weatherford’s car and found a shell casing for a 9mm that appeared to match the bullet that was pulled out of the family’s car. Police say there is also evidence that linked Weatherford to the shooting near the police station.
Police arrested Weatherford and showed the driver of the SUV a photo lineup. Police say the victim positively identified Weatherford as the man who shot at him.
“The adult male driving, that had the face to face encounter, window to window, with the offender, he pointed out Weatherford as the man who shot at his vehicle,” said Lt. Haywood.
Weatherford was taken to the Maury County jail and charged with a slew of crimes, including attempted first-degree murder for the shooting of the man in the street and attempted second degree murder in connection with the shooting of the SUV.
Weatherford’s criminal history goes back years and includes: four dui’s, evading arrest, driving on a revoked license, robbery, and aggravated assault.