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Clearwater road rage incident ends in gunshots, arrest

CLEARWATER — It's a case of he said/he said.

Mohamed El-shaeir, 39, says he used a gun Monday night to protect himself and his family from Danniel P. Calvert, 20.

Calvert says El-shaeir shot him as he was trying to walk away from a fight.

But they both agree on one thing: The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office got the story all wrong.

"I'm the one who was assaulted. I don't understand how he's the victim," El-shaeir said Tuesday afternoon, about 18 hours after he wound up in jail after an altercation with Calvert.

Calvert sees it differently: "That guy did not shoot the ground — he was shooting to kill. But now I'm the bad guy. I should be the victim."

This much the Sheriff's Office and the two men agree on:

At about 8 p.m. Monday, Calvert and El-shaeir, both of Clearwater, got into an argument in front of El-shaeir's house at 2140 Catalina Drive N.

The two men exchanged harsh words, Calvert used a couple of racial slurs and things got a little physical. El-shaeir grabbed a firearm from his car, showed it to Calvert and told the man to leave the neighborhood.

Calvert was walking toward his car when El-shaeir discharged the gun in his direction, hitting Calvert once in the calf and once in the upper thigh. Calvert was taken to Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg and was discharged Tuesday morning.

El-shaeir was arrested on a felony charge of carrying a concealed firearm and a misdemeanor charge of culpable negligence. He was released on his own recognizance at 3:05 a.m. Tuesday, jail records show.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda said El-shaeir's culpable negligence charge may be dropped and has been referred to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney's Office.

The Sheriff's Office also is considering arresting Calvert on a battery charge and has sent that to the State Attorney's Office for review as well.

In some cases, Barreda explained, the State Attorney's Office is called in to look over criminal charges if, for example, it is difficult to determine exactly who was the aggressor.

It all started, the Sheriff's Office said, on Monday night when witnesses said Calvert was driving recklessly on the residential street, speeding through the neighborhood, spinning his tires, and slamming on his brakes.

El-shaeir was unloading groceries with his wife in front of their home, deputies said, when El-shaeir yelled at Calvert to knock it off.

The driver stopped in front of the home, got out and got into a heated argument with El-shaeir, authorities said.

Calvert made racist remarks to El-shaeir, deputies said.

Then Calvert assaulted El-shaeir, deputies said. El-shaeir went to his vehicle, grabbed a firearm and put it into his pocket, according to deputies. He told Calvert to leave.

But Calvert struck El-shaeir again, this time in the face, deputies said.

That's when El-shaeir pulled out the gun and fired several rounds, deputies said.

The slugs ricocheted off the ground and hit Calvert in the leg. A nearby vehicle was also hit, but no one else appears to have been injured.

According to El-shaeir, he never yelled at Calvert while Calvert was driving; he simply gave him a harsh look. Then Calvert stopped, got out of his car and started screaming at El-shaeir and threatening to kill him, El-shaeir said.

But Calvert said he wasn't speeding. He said he accidentally hit the gas instead of the brakes when he turned the corner onto the block, then quickly slowed down as he drove to a friend's house.

El-shaeir began to shout at him to come back, Calvert said, so he stepped out of his car. The two men began to yell and curse loudly at one another. Calvert did not want to fight, so he turned around to return to his car, he said.

El-shaeir said Calvert punched him in the face several times, and El-shaeir now has bruises on his eye and lip. But Calvert denies hitting him, saying he was simply trying to push El-shaeir away.

El-shaeir said he went to his car and grabbed his gun, showing it to Calvert. Calvert told El-shaeir he had a gun, too, and walked back to his car.

El-shaeir, afraid that Calvert was retrieving his firearm, fired shots at the ground around Calvert in order to scare him away, he said. The bullets must have ricocheted off the ground and into Calvert's leg, El-shaeir said.

But, according to Calvert, El-shaeir followed him to his car and they started to tussle. When Calvert attempted again to walk away from the fight, El-shaeir took a gun out of his pants pocket and shot Calvert twice in the leg.

Calvert said he believes deputies are not interested in his side of the story because of his criminal past.

In 2008, Calvert was sentenced to 21 months in prison when he violated his probation on convictions of burglary and criminal mischief, according to records from the Florida Department of Corrections. He was released in February 2009.

Since being released from prison, Calvert said, he's worked hard to turn his life around and stay out of trouble. He works part-time as a handyman. He's engaged, and his fiancee is eight months pregnant. Now, he said, he's afraid that he'll be charged with battery and miss the birth of his daughter.

Plus, Calvert said, his gunshot wounds could have been much worse: Doctors hold him that if the bullet had hit an artery in his thigh, they would have had to amputate his leg.

But El-shaeir maintains that he had a right to protect his wife, Yana, 22, and his 6-year-old son, Zacariah. El-shaeir reasoned that Calvert's threats entitled him to defend them in any way possible.

"If he ever comes back to my neighborhood, if he ever comes walking toward my house, I'll make sure that the police are there," El-shaeir said, "or I'll take care of it myself."

Clearwater road rage incident ends in gunshots, arrest 07/13/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 13, 2010 8:14pm]
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