Bail has been set at $100,000 for a Spanaway man accused of firing three shots at a semi-truck on southbound state Route 7 near Mineral on Monday.
The defendant, Denny J. N. Felt, 28, had allegedly been following the semi-truck in a red four-door Volkswagen in an attempt to make the driver of the semi-truck stop, according to court documents.
The driver of the semi-truck told law enforcement that the situation started as a “road rage incident” in Pierce County, where Felt reportedly attempted to overtake the semi-truck and then fell behind. Felt then reportedly continued to follow the semi-truck into Lewis County, allegedly passing the semi-truck “in a double yellow zone and then slammed on his brakes” while “flipping (the semi-truck driver) off,” according to court documents.
The driver of the semi-truck stated he heard a gunshot while passing Pleasant Valley Road on state Route 7 and when he looked into his mirror, he “heard two more gunshots and could see two muzzle flashes,” according to court documents.
The semi-truck was later taken to a mechanics shop and was actively searched for bullet holes, but neither the driver nor the mechanics were able to find “any obvious impact locations.”
The Washington State Patrol was dispatched to mile marker 13 on state Route 7 on reports of a red four-door Volkswagen “traveling behind a semi-truck, flashing its lights, making hand gestures and attempting to pass in a no passing zone,” according to court documents.
A deputy with the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office and an officer with the Morton Police Department soon located the Volkswagen and contacted the driver, later identified as Felt.
The deputy and the officer asked Felt if he had a firearm, and Felt reportedly said “yes” and pointed to his lap. The officers found no weapon in his lap, but a firearm — later identified as a Smith & Wesson SD9 VE semi-automatic pistol — was observed “in open view on the front passenger seat,” according to court documents.
Officers also located a knife and a “glass smoking device” on Felt, according to court documents.
The gun contained 13 rounds with one in the chamber, according to court documents. Felt reportedly advised law enforcement he regularly carried the firearm with 16 rounds in the magazine and no round in the chamber.
When asked about the incident with the semi-truck, Felt allegedly said “the semi-truck driver almost ‘made him die,” “he was upset at how the semi-truck driver was driving” and “he was trying to make the semi-truck stop,” according to court documents. Felt allegedly admitted to shooting at the semi-truck two to three times “to get the driver’s attention.”
When asked “if he thought this was the best thing to do,” Felt allegedly said “no, I can guarantee you it wasn’t the best thing to do,” according to court documents.
The deputy reportedly smelled the odor of marijuana while speaking with Felt and noticed Felt’s “speech seemed slurred at times and he was disoriented when first asked where the firearm was located,” according to court documents.
Felt allegedly admitted to smoking a blunt or a joint three to four hours before the law enforcement contacted him.
Felt was booked into the Lewis County Jail at 2:20 a.m. on Tuesday and has since been charged with one count each of drive-by-shooting and reckless endangerment.
He appeared in Lewis County Superior Court for a preliminary hearing later that afternoon, where Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Bassetti asked Judge James Lawler to set bail at $100,000.
Bassetti acknowledged that Felt had no criminal convictions, but said the facts of the case were “very troubling to the state” and based on those allegations, the state believes Felt “presents a significant community safety risk.
Defense Attorney Rachael Tiller argued for bail to be set no higher than $20,000, citing Felt’s lack of criminal convictions and a stable living situation.
“Despite the lack of history and … the things that point to stability, we have an incident here where he's accused of firing a gun on a freeway, endangering all sorts of people,” said Lawler in response.
Lawler stated that he agreed with Bassetti’s concerns about community safety and granted Bassetti’s request for $100,000 bail.
Felt’s next court appearance is an arraignment hearing scheduled for Thursday, April 21.