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Man dead in road rage incident; truck driver arrested

James Armstrong's attorney says he was acting in self-defense.
Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 3:24 PM EDT
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UPDATE 10/7/21 @ 11 p.m.

WILLIAMSON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A man was shot and killed Thursday during a road rage incident, and the truck driver who allegedly pulled the trigger was arrested, according to Williamson police.

The call came in a little before 2 p.m.

According to the criminal complaint, 66-year-old James Armstrong, the truck driver, fired a shot at the other man, Eric Bennett Sammons, after a confrontation. The complaint say Sammons walked to the driver’s side of the semi “screaming and cussing.”

Court records say Sammons had blocked the tractor-trailer at the intersection of U.S. 52 and U.S. 119 with his car.

Armstrong’s attorney, Jeffrey Simpkins, tells WSAZ the shooting was self-defense.

“My client never opened the door,” Simpkins said. ”There are witnesses to that effect that he (Sammons) was making threatening comments the whole time as he was proceeding back toward the semi. He (Sammons) proceeded to open the door. He was getting physical, going to have a physical altercation, at which time my client justifiably fired a shot.”

Sammons, who was shot in the chest, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Williamson Police Chief said Armstrong, who is from Georgia, would be charged with second-degree murder. The chief said Sammons lived nearby.

Simpkins tells WSAZ his client claims the incident began when Sammons cut him off, and then Armstrong cursed at him and told Sammons he’d cut him off.

The Williamson Police Department, Mingo County Sheriff’s Office, WVSP and Williamson FD all responded to the scene.

“Typically any type of scenario that involves trying to get another vehicle to stop, especially on a U.S. interstate or anything like that is never a good idea,” Williamson Police Chief Grady Dotson said. “It’s always good just to digress and to take a deep breath and think about the situation before you act on it.”

Simpkins says Armstrong called 911 himself after the shooting.

“As soon as he shot him, he called 911 and said ‘Listen, I just shot somebody. I had no intent to shoot the guy, but I had no choice. I had to protect myself,’ ” Simpkins said.

Armstrong is being held at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Holden.

His bond was set at $200,000 cash only.

The northbound lanes of U.S. 119 were closed during the investigation.

Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest details.

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