Prosecutor: Shooting after road rage self-defense

Generic Battle Creek Police Car

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The Calhoun County Prosecutor has decided that a man who fired at a vehicle, injuring its passenger, was acting in self-defense  following an incident of road rage.

The March 12 shooting happened after Victoria Franklin honked her horn and made a rude hand gesture toward fellow driver Michael McJunkin after he drifted toward her lane in the area of M-66 and I-94, according to a report on the incident from Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert.

Franklin’s boyfriend Robert Hansen and her two 17-month-old children were also in the car.

McJunkin became angry, shouting and returning hand gestures. As the vehicles entered Battle Creek, McJunkin continued threatening and angry behavior, Gilbert’s report said.

When both vehicles were stopped at a red light, McJunkin got out of his Ford Explorer and began yelling, gesturing wildly and hitting Franklin’s car, the prosecutor’s report said. Hansen showed McJunkin he was armed and Franklin then drove away. McJunkin followed at a rate of speed.

Michael McJunkin. (2011 photo courtesy the Michigan Department of Corrections.
(Michael McJunkin. 2011 photo courtesy the Michigan Department of Corrections.)

The prosecutor said McJunkin could see the children in the car as he followed Franklin.

While trying to get away, Franklin drove into the Bronson Hospital parking lot, where she lost control and hit a snow bank.

Hansen got out of the vehicle and fired five shots at McJunkin’s Explorer. The female passenger in McJunkin’s car was hit with shrapnel, but she was not seriously hurt.

Hansen told police he fired in self-defense, the prosecutor said.

“He felt McJunkin was hunting them, for the purpose of hurting them or worse,” the prosecutor’s report says.

The gun was legally registered to Franklin, the prosecutor said and she holds a valid CPL license.

It is believed McJunkin was under the influence of methamphetamine at the time of the incident, the prosecutor’s report said. A digital scale recovered from the Ford Explorer had a white powdery substance on it. A presumptive test was positive for meth, according to the prosecutor’s report.

Gilbert’s decision about whether to authorize charges against Hansen said that considering the circumstances, Hansen had reason to believe McJunkin meant to do him or others harm. That means he was justified in firing in self-defense under Michigan law.

The prosecutor also said an earlier claim that McJunkin was merely trying to get Franklin’s license plate number is “suspect,” and that it also doesn’t matter because Hansen still had just reason to believe McJunkin may be violent.

McJunkin originally faced a charge of assault with a deadly weapon for his part in the incident. That charge was dropped after a judge ruled his actions did not constitute assault.

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