Florida drivers got to see a disturbing case of road rage this week.
According to a police report from the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office, two detectives in an unmarked car were driving toward Englewood, south of Sarasota, in slow moving traffic. Suddenly, they came upon four men outside their cars in some sort of confrontation.
The report says the detectives hit the emergency lights and parked behind one of the vehicles. As they got out of their their car, three men pointed at a man later identified as Michael Cittadino, yelling, “He’s got a machete!”
The suspect, who was “moving in an aggressive manner and clenching his fists,” was given several commands to stand down, but refused. A detective then grabbed Cittadino’s wrist, and he tried to wrench it free, screaming that his back went and an ambulance was called.
While Cittadino was being treated, the victim told authorities that he tried to merge into a lane and the suspect pulled beside him, cutting him off. The victim said the suspect then got out of his car with a machete in his hand and began swinging and striking at his car, causing “visible damage.”
After the victim got out of his vehicle to fend off Cittadino, two of his co-workers pulled up to assist him.
During the confrontation, the drivers reported that Cittadino threw the machete back into his vehicle.
After getting medically cleared, Cittadino was taken to the Charlotte County Jail. He was charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, criminal mischief and resisting an officer without violence.
Cittadino’s vehicle was towed to the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office impound yard to await a search warrant for the machete. The weapon was later located in his truck.
“Driving can be stressful, but feeling angry when behind the wheel could lead to aggressive driving, distracted driving or even an accident,” the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter. They included tips on how to avoid road rage.
“Use hand gestures wisely. Keep gestures positive — say, waving to a driver who lets you in when merging,” read the post. “Don’t tailgate. Always keep a safe distance from the car in front, no matter how slowly they might be driving. Lay off the horn. Honking out of frustration won’t solve any problems; it will just increase the stress level for everyone on the road.”
And no matter what, don’t stop to confront another driver, the agency said.
“Stopping could lead to a dangerous situation for everyone. If another driver acts aggressively stay away,” the post continued. “Don’t make eye contact. Don’t stop. Stopping could lead to a person-to-person confrontation, which could be dangerous.”