Having a lot of car safety features is an essential factor to consider when shopping for a vehicle. Still, forward-collision warning technology and an ABS (anti-lock braking system) can’t always protect you from aggressive and unpredictable drivers. That’s why many experts recommend getting a dashcam to help catch these drivers in the act.
Of course, sometimes a dashcam can work against you if you’re an aggressive driver. Dashcam footage proved to be a pain for Eric Popper, who fired 11 bullets from his moving car when driving on I-95 in Miami-Dade County, Florida. With a video that has turned immensely viral on social media, what triggered Popper’s outburst?
The incident on I-95
Police initially learned about the I-95 shooting incident on June 21 last year, according to Local10. The drivers of two cars with multiple bullet holes separately called the police to report an incident of road rage. It was later discovered that Eric Popper, who turned himself in, was the only one who fired any shots.
Popper also provided dashcam footage of the entire incident. According to the official police report, Popper was driving to work when he changed lanes and accidentally cut someone off. Rene Suarez, the other driver, honked his horn and proceeded to tailgate Popper. In retaliation, Popper slammed on his brakes. A few seconds later, Suarez pulled up to the passenger side of Popper’s vehicle and threw a water bottle. The bottle hit Popper’s car, causing him to quickly accelerate and pull a gun out of the car’s center console. He waited for Suarez’s next attempt to pass before firing eleven shots.
Suarez was able to pass Popper’s car and avoid injury. Popper apparently believed that this footage would prove his innocence to the police. Instead, he was charged with aggravated assault and firing a deadly missile. If convicted of the charges in court, he could serve up to 30 years in prison. Popper is since out of jail on bail while he awaits his trial.
The dashcam footage paints a picture of road rage and attempted murder
When talking to the police, Popper claimed that he was fearful for his life. His incriminating dashcam footage, which has over two million views on Twitter, says otherwise. When Suarez honks his horn, Popper starts loudly swearing before he pumps the brakes.
Popper also appears very calm while taking the gun out of the center console. When he’s finished, he even mutters an expletive of disbelief before going on his way down I-95. Not really the response you’d expect from someone who was fearful for his safety and nearly ended another person’s life.
Popper says shooting his firearm was justified
When Local10 first approached Popper for comment, he apparently wouldn’t answer his door. His lawyer came to his defense, saying that you could clearly hear a bullet hitting Popper’s car. Official police reports say otherwise.
In another Local10 interview, Popper admits that he believed it was a stray bullet at the time but wasn’t certain. He said that he wasn’t going to wait to find out otherwise, hence why he fired the shots. He also says that the Twitter video is only a piece of the story and doesn’t accurately portray the situation.
Regardless of the legitimacy of Popper’s claims, there’s a bigger issue at hand. He seemingly had no qualms about pulling out a gun and opening fire on a crowded I-95 highway. Suarez aside, Popper could have injured several other drivers in the process. Many would also like to know why Popper continued firing even as Suarez fled for his life. Popper appears to be the aggressor when he displays angry body language after Suarez honked his horn.
Regardless of what Popper thought he heard, resorting to gun violence is a huge overreaction. We’d hate to see how he responds to a rock that happens to hit his car at high speeds! Fortunately, neither Suarez nor any other civilians sustained injuries from the incident.