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Road rage in Colorado: "More people are willing to use violence"

Road rage in Colorado getting a lot of attention from law enforcement
Road rage in Colorado getting a lot of attention from law enforcement 03:16

We've all likely seen it or perhaps even are – that angry driver. Colorado roads are getting more crowded and that alone is setting some drivers off into a fit of road rage.

In some cases, that rage turns violent and deadly. Like what happened the night of June 5 in Aurora.

"Somebody disrespected somebody else, and the next thing you know we have aggression," said Aurora Police Division Chief Jad Lanigan.

What started as a drive home for a family became a deadly nightmare at the intersection of South Havana Street and East Idaho Place. 

That is where Stephen Qualls, 47, was shot and killed after he got out of his SUV to tell another driver they were behaving recklessly, according to court documents.


The gunman took off but using cellphone tracking technology and video from surveillance cameras, Aurora detectives managed to track down the alleged shooter and his passenger about a week later. 

  Juan Carlos Rivas-Luna and Aracely Enriquez  Aurora Police

Juan Carlos Rivas, 18, was arrested and faces first-degree murder charges. Aracely Enriquez, also 18, was taken into custody on charges of accessory to first-degree murder.

"We're seeing younger and younger suspects committing crimes these days," Lanigan said.

Just this week in Denver, 24-year-old, Stephen Long, was arrested for allegedly shooting and killing two people in I-25. The incident happened in the middle of the day on Tuesday. The victims have been identified by family members as Blake Lucas, 21, and Damon Lucas, 22. 

Denver Police

That case is now added to the list of 170 road rage cases reported to Denver police so far this year, according to the department. 

In Aurora, police told CBS News Colorado they have received about 120 calls of road rage in the last six months. Lanigan says those calls account for every report from excessive horn honking to shootings. 

Colorado State Patrol shared data that showed it received tens of thousands of road rage calls throughout the year. 

In 2021, the department received 30,347 calls, that climbed to 31,760 calls in 2022.

"What we're seeing is people are more willing to use violence against somebody else," he said.

Lanigan doesn't believe violent road rage is common in Colorado, but it is clear more people are choosing to be aggressive behind the wheel.

"Let's just start giving each other just a little bit more grace when we're driving," he said.

If you find yourself in a road rage situation or witness one, Lanigan says call 911. 

Another way to avoid trouble with an aggressive driver, he suggested, is to keep taking right turns until you're back on the road where you started and "hopefully that person has moved on."

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