Road rage suspect in UM lockdown denies carrying gun
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (WSVN) -- The South Florida man arrested Monday for his alleged involvement in a road rage incident near the campus of the University of Miami denied he was carrying a firearm, police said.
Jesse Hernandez bonded out of jail Monday afternoon. He faces charges of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and possession of marijuana.
According to officials, UM students were placed on alert Sunday and cautioned to remain indoors as officers from the Coral Gables and UM police departments canvassed the Red Road Commons apartment complex at Southwest 57th Avenue and Levante Avenue. This is the location the suspect used to hide from police, according to investigators.
Detectives said the suspect was driving a white pickup truck on U.S. 1 and Augusta Avenue, less than half a mile northeast of the UM campus, around 8 p.m., when he hit a car.
"He was just tailgating me; I guess he was in a hurry," said the driver of the car Hernandez hit, who asked not to be identified. "He was basically following me. He was right behind me, and he basically got to the side of me, realized he wasn't going to be able to get by me, so he just slammed into the front of my car."
The driver said he then lowered his car window to talk to Hernandez. "I told the guy, I was like, 'What's going on?'" Following a heated exchange, the victim said Hernandez pulled out what he believed to be a gun. "Being a gun holder, I pulled mine out and I said, 'You don't want to do this right now.' Words were exchanged more, he sped forward, and that's when he tried basically running me off the road."
The victim's car sustained some damage to the right fender. The victim said he feels fortunate he was not injured in the collision. "Luckily, [the damage to the car] is all I have to worry about," he said. "I have no broken bones, I have no injuries."
Police said Hernandez took off and ditched his truck in front of the Red Road Commons complex, which provides off campus housing to UM students. As a precaution, campus authorities issued a cell phone alert to students, advising them to stay inside and lock their doors.
"We get a lot of alerts, so I didn't even listen to it at first," said UM student Logan Hulsmeyer. "I got talked to by a security lady saying there's, like, somebody on the loose who's armed, and then I kind of paid a little more attention to it."
"I mean, it's certainly something to keep an eye out for," said a fellow UM student. "You can never be too careful, and like [Logan] said, we do get a lot of messages about things that usually don't end up as anything, but it's obviously good to keep an eye out, especially with this kind of thing."
After hours of searching for Hernandez, a UM officer spotted him returning to the area to retrieve his truck, around 1 a.m. and took him into custody. Coral Gables Police then arrested him.
"I wasn't afraid for myself, I was afraid for other people," said the victim of the road rage incident. "I don't know what this guy's gonna do."
Investigators said Hernandez denied ever pulling out a gun on the other driver, and they never found a weapon. He declined to comment.
In Hernandez's arrest report, the suspect admitted to hitting the other driver's car because he was upset the motorist stopped abruptly in front of him. Police also found suspected marijuana inside Hernandez's truck.
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