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Prosecutor says fatal road-rage shooting still under investigation


Seven weeks after a man emptied his pistol at a busy Route 60 intersection, killing one man he said had threatened him and spraying another car with bullets, no charges have been brought in the case.

Despite the lack of action, the lead prosecutor handling the fatal road-rage shooting denied there was any conflict between the State Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Office, saying late last week that the November incident was still under investigation and he was waiting for more evidence to be gathered.

"I'm still waiting on materials that haven't come in yet," Assistant State Attorney Steve Gosnell said. "When I have everything – when I have all the facts available – I'll go through it and make a determination.

"I understand that when there's a shooting and someone gets killed, everybody wants to see an arrest," he added. "But, as a prosecutor, you have to make sure you can establish there's probable cause that there was an unlawful killing.

"In this case, the claim of self-defense has been raised."

Claiming he felt threatened and “opened fire” in self-defense, Timothy Daniel Sartori shot and killed Dennis Wayne Hicks while their vehicles were stopped at the intersection of State Road 60 and 53rd Avenue.

Four of Sartori’s bullets traveled across traffic lanes and struck a third vehicle in which a 3-year-old boy was a passenger.

Neither the driver of that car, Michael Clemente, nor his young son were injured.

A week after the incident, Sheriff Deryl Loar told Vero Beach 32963 he believed "there should be some type of charge, possibly for recklessly discharging a firearm in public.

"It wasn't like it was one or two or three rounds," Loar said. "It was 10 to 15 rounds. He emptied the gun
. . .  We can't condone someone just discharging a weapon the way he did."

Sartori, who pulled into a parking lot adjacent to the intersection and dialed 911 to report the shooting, was interviewed by deputies for several hours immediately after the incident but was not charged with a crime.

Gosnell, who was summoned to the scene, said at the time there wasn't enough probable cause to charge the shooter and that he would wait for sheriff's detectives to complete a full investigation. Last week, he said he was still waiting.

"There's no timetable," he said. "I'm not going to take any shortcuts."

Once the investigation is complete and all the evidence gathered, Gosnell said he will consult with other prosecutors – including State Attorney Bruce Colton – and decide whether Sartori should be charged with any crime.