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Man shot at other drivers, police say

Published Sep. 29, 2005

The two drivers were minding their own business on the morning commute toward Tampa when the Toyota appeared.

The driver was clearly agitated. He tailgated. Then, he opened fire.

Clearwater police said Philippe Leguichard of Tarpon Springs tried to kill drivers in two other cars Thursday when he fired a semi-automatic handgun while driving east on the Courtney Campbell Parkway.

"The people who were victims in this case were in his way," said Clearwater Detective Dan Slaughter, who said neither victim did anything to provoke the shootings.

The shootings occurred about 7 a.m. Leguichard arrived at his job at Hillsborough County Public Works Department at 7:35 a.m., just a few minutes late. By midnight, he was in jail.

"It was certainly very unusual in that you don't see a case where one person vents his anger on multiple people," said Clearwater police Lt. Steve Burch. "This is a very egregious and extraordinary incident of road rage."

After both of the other drivers reported his license tag, Leguichard, 45, was arrested at his job and charged with two counts of attempted murder. He was being held without bail Friday at the Pinellas County Jail.

When Tarpon Springs detectives went to Leguichard's house at 1121 Clippers Way on Friday to check on firearms, police said his wife told them she had collected 20 guns from the house after his arrest and gave them to in-laws. She could not be reached Friday.

Clearwater police said the shootings happened like this:

Diane Stippich, 43, and Joseph Evangelist, 40, both of Safety Harbor, were in separate cars headed east on the parkway in the left lane. So was Leguichard.

Stippich, who declined to comment, told police she noticed a car tailgating her. The car, a beige 1996 Toyota Camry, then pulled up next to her. The driver, identified by police as Leguichard, pointed a .38-caliber handgun at her and fired.

The bullet lodged in her car door about an inch below the window. Clearwater Detective Juan Torres said the shot probably would have hit Stippich if it had been 2 inches higher.

The Toyota raced up behind Evangelist's car and tailgated him for a while. Evangelist told police he heard a shot as he drove and saw the Toyota's driver pointing a gun at his car. A bullet hit the rear of Evangelist's car.

Evangelist, who could not be reached for comment, switched lanes. The Toyota followed him closely and then went by him.

Police said a .38-caliber handgun and a shell casing were later found in Leguichard's Toyota. Leguichard denied shooting at anyone, Slaughter said.

Burch said none of the other 67 road rage incidents reported to that department since March 1998 has been as violent.

Pinellas sheriff's records show that Leguichard was a suspect in a road rage incident in 1997. A motorist reported that the driver of a Toyota became angry when he was apparently cut off and produced a handgun. The driver, later identified as Leguichard, waved what looked like a handgun and pointed it toward the sky. No one was arrested.

According to records, the only other brush Leguichard had with law enforcement involved a noise ordinance complaint.

He lives in the tidy Westwinds neighborhood in a cream stucco house that has wrought-iron grates over its windows and front door. Next-door neighbor Peter Teige said he knew Leguichard well enough to exchange greetings.

"I speak Spanish, and so does he," Teige said. "He seemed like a nice enough guy."

Hillsborough County records show Leguichard is a draftsman in public works. He has worked for the county for 14 years. A supervisor in his department declined to comment other than to say Leguichard worked Thursday after arriving a few minutes late.

An unrelated road rage incident earlier this year left two Tampa men critically injured. Jody Daniel, 29, and Luis Collado, 32, were beaten with shovels in April on Anclote Road in Tarpon Springs. Three Tarpon Springs men were arrested and charged with attempted murder.

_ Times staff writer Bryan Gilmer contributed to this report.