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Man charged after shot fired in traffic

In Spring Hill two men cut each other off, and one pulled out a gun and shot at the other, a sheriff's report says.

One man ended up in jail and another's car was hit with a bullet after they cut each other off Tuesday morning as both tried to merge their vehicles on Spring Hill Drive near Finland Drive, according to a sheriff's report.

James Michael Mihalik, of 3476 Paragon Terrace in Hernando Beach, faces several felony charges including aggravated assault, shooting into a vehicle, carrying a concealed weapon and fleeing and eluding a police officer, according to a Hernando County sheriff's report.

A witness saw Mihalik pull his gray Chevrolet van in front of Jose Bernardo's beige Mercury about 8:40 a.m. where Spring Hill Drive goes from four to two lanes, the report said. The Mercury pulled to the left into oncoming traffic and then cut off Mihalik's van.

At that point, the driver of the van pointed a handgun out the window and fired once, the report said. A deputy later found a bullet hole in the Mercury's left rear bumper.

Mihalik continued east on Spring Hill Drive and, according to the report, sped away from a deputy who tried to pull the van over near Dothan Avenue. Mihalik accelerated and passed another car while being pursued by the patrol car with its lights and sirens activated. Mihalik pulled over when another patrol car came at the van in a westbound direction, the report said.

Mihalik told the deputies that Bernardo fired a shot at him and that he was acting in self defense. His story, however, contradicted Bernardo and the witness, both of whom said Mihalik was the only one with a gun.

Deputies found two handguns _ a .22-caliber and a .380-caliber _ in the van. No guns were found in Bernardo's Mercury.

Mihalik was taken to Hernando County Jail where he remained Wednesday evening in lieu of $24,000 bail, jail officials said.