Jeffrey Payton

A man from Tulsa who allegedly fired at least three shots at an 18-wheeler traveling 70 m.p.h. on I-44 early this morning (02-22-10) is facing several felony charges related to the incident in Lawrence County.

Authorities say Jeffrey D. Payton, 50, was pulled over at 9: 26 a.m., February 22 on the western edge of Springfield near West Bypass and I-44.

In the probable cause statement police note that Payton and the truck driver, Thomas Lee Howlett, flipped each other off near Mt. Vernon and that's what sparked the road rage incident that thankfully ended with no one getting hurt .

The probable cause statement says that Howlett told investigators, "A car came onto the highway in front of me. He was kind of close, but not super close. I took off my cruise and backed ofr. He (Payton) threw a couple of fountain drinks out the window at me. He moved overand I set my cruise back on 70. As I passed him he flipped me off and I flipped him ofl' back. I got into the right lane and he pulled out to pass me. He got up beside me and I thought he was going to flip me off again. All of a sudden he started shooting at my truck. He fired three times and hit my truck all three times."

Payton says that Howlett was tailgating him and that he slowed down and let him pass and then pulled alongside him and tried to shoot out his tires.

Highway Patrol Sgt. Dan Bracker tells the Ozarks Sentinel/Tri-County Sentinel that, "Road rage on the part of the driver of the car (Payton) appears to be the reason behind the shooting." He goes on to say, "The driver of the 18-wheeler was eastbound and thought he heard a shot. Once the rig was stopped we did find evidence on the rim that contact had been made and recovered a weapon believed to have been used in the incident."

Payton's has been impounded to be processed for evidence. "We also recovered a weapon from Mr. Payton's person (shirt pocket) that we believe was used in the incident" says Bracker.

Lawrence County Sheriff Brad Delay says, "We are holding the suspect at our facility because we believe it happened here (Lawrence County)."

Payton has been charged with second-degree assault, unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action. His bond has been set at $100,000.

The irony to this story is that Payton is also an over the road truck driver.

Click here For probable cause and charging documents.
*****Greg Brock contributed to this story

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