Mesquite highway shooting: Road rage or self-defense?

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on March 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 25 at 7:13 PM

Motorist shot

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MESQUITE — A Mesquite man, following a driver he believed was drunk, was shot early Monday morning after the suspect stopped in a lane of traffic and opened fire.

The suspect, Leonard Young, unloaded his weapon into the passing car, firing 15 times. One of the bullets hit the driver in the back of the head.

"I was in shock. My windows were broken," said the wounded motorist from his hospital bed at Baylor University Medical Center. "Marcus," who asked that his identity be hidden, remembers thinking, "'What are you aiming at?' It didn’t make sense."

Marcus was traveling west on Interstate 30 approaching Interstate 635 around 1 a.m. Monday. He said he noticed a car driving suspiciously, and assumed the driver was intoxicated.

So Marcus called the Mesquite Police Department and continued following the other car as it veered south on 635.

"He looked like he was wasted... he was all over the road," said Marcus, 29, who works in computer technology. "It’s in my nature. I got to try to help."

Marcus admits he was persistent. He tailed the other driver for miles, followed him as he exited, even pulled alongside shouting at the driver to pull over.

To that other driver — Leonard Young — it felt like he was under attack.

"I didn’t understand what was his point," Young told News 8. "As I slowed down, he would slow down. As I sped up try to get away, he would speed up. So it was like there was no getting away from this guy."

Young maintains he was not intoxicated, and had just gotten off work at a mall security guard. He said he flashed his badge at the pestering driver (which Marcus assumed was fake), and shouted at him to go away.

"I said, 'I'm a security officer! Leave me alone! Go on about your business!'" Young, 23, recalled.

When that didn’t work, Young said he simply pulled over and jumped out of his car — with his gun drawn.

"He veered in front of me, trying to completely stop my vehicle," Young told News 8 as he left jail still wearing his security guard uniform. "I never fired my gun at anyone or anything... I didn’t know what to do. I felt like my life was in danger, and it was like, 'Do something quick, or I’m going to die.'"

So Young said he decided to open fire as Marcus drove alongside his vehicle. Fifteen bullets pierced the car... and Marcus.

"When I got done feeling the threat was over, the weapon was empty," Young said. "I was still pulling the trigger, but once it stopped clicking, I noticed my weapon was completely empty."

Young insists he fired in self-defense. He said he felt harassed and threatened by a stranger on a dark highway.

"I felt like [Marcus] was trying to hurt me," he said.

After the shooting, Young called Mesquite police and drove to the station to speak with officers. He has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Marcus now faces surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his head. He is unsympathetic and angry that a man who is licensed to carry a gun and protect people would so easily decide to open fire.

"It's weak; how you going to shoot somebody in the back?” Marcus asked. "It was a bad call on his part. He must have been having a bad night."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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