Road Rage Leads to Shooting, Suicide

ByABC News
June 18, 2001, 10:04 PM

S A C R A M E N T O, Calif., June 19 -- Count to 10 the next time someone cuts you off in traffic. When someone screams at you from behind the wheel, turn the other cheek and drive on. It's just not worth it.

That's the lesson two Sacramento families have learned in the most painful way possible. It's a lesson Nancie Mann will never forget.

She was celebrating her birthday, May 6th, by going out for Sunday brunch with her husband and her son. Driving home, a pickup truck cut them off near the Hazel Street off-ramp of Sacramento's Highway 50.

"We slammed on our brakes, but didn't hit him," she remembered. "Then he slammed on his brakes in front of us, so my husband slammed on his even harder."

Sgt. James Lewis of the Sacramento Sheriff's Department said, "It started what we would consider to be a road rage incident, where the two of them exchanged both verbal and physical gestures an obvious bit of anger between the two."

What the Manns didn't know was that the driver of the pickup, Donald Bell, had a gun.

Things escalated quickly. When the cars stopped at the off-ramp, Timothy Mann went to confront Bell even though Nancie Mann and her son both begged him to stay in the car. With both men out of their vehicles, Timothy Mann approached Bell, even though the gun was in plain view, and punched him. Bell shot Mann in the face at point-blank range, and Mann died almost instantly, despite his son's efforts to resuscitate him.

"The son couldn't stand up," said paramedic Phil Hart. "He sat down on the curb. He was beside himself trying to help his father and take care of his mother at the same time."Meanwhile, Donald Bell's 15-year-old son watched from the pickup, as paramedics disarmed Bell and sheriff's deputies arrested him for manslaughter.

"This is absolutely the most extreme case of road rage that I've ever seen," said Sheriff James Lewis.

Acting in Self-Defense?Bell insisted that the shooting was an accident, that he was acting in self-defense. He blamed the victim, Timothy Mann.