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Shots fired on I-95; New Yorkers charged
Shots fired on I-95; New Yorkers charged


Date published: 11/17/2004

By KEITH EPPS

Two New York residents were arrested yesterday after a man fired shots at another vehicle while traveling north on Interstate 95, state police said.

State police Sgt. Les Tyler said three North Carolina women were in a car just south of State Route 3 in Fredericksburg about 4:15 p.m. when a teal Mercury Marquis pulled up beside them. The male passenger then pointed a gun at them and began firing.

One of the victims called police and stayed on the line as troopers got into position to stop the suspect vehicle, which had Florida tags and was driven by a woman.

Troopers Todd Smith and Helms Jaine made the traffic stop a short time later in Stafford County, about nine miles north of where the shooting occurred.

The victims pulled in behind the troopers and identified the car and the suspects, Tyler said. They then continued their trip to the Washington area.

The pellet gun and a jar of pellet ammunition were found on the passenger's side of the suspects' car, police said. The car is registered to the parents of the driver, who live in Florida.

Tyler said there had been no prior confrontation, and the shooting appeared to be random.

The gun turned out to be a pellet gun, but the victims didn't know that until later.

"As far as they knew at the time, they were being shot at with a real gun," Tyler said.

At least four pellets hit the driver's door of the victims' car. The damage was minor and no one was injured, Tyler said.

Tyler said the victims' quick decision to use a cell phone allowed state police to apprehend the suspects about two miles south of the Stafford Courthouse exit.

"I'd just like to urge that anytime anything like this happens on the road, call #77 or 911 and stay on the line. That was critical in this case," Tyler said.

David F. Scarpitta, 25, of West Babylon, N.Y., was charged with shooting at an occupied vehicle and brandishing a firearm.

Jeanette J. Lechner, 33, of North Belmore, N.Y., was charged with conspiracy.

The charges were filed in Fredericksburg because that's where the shooting occurred, Tyler said.

Police had no other reports of shots being fired, but Tyler urged any motorists who may have encountered the Mercury to call the local state police office at 540/891-4108.

To reach KEITH EPPS: 540/374-5404 kepps@freelancestar.com