LAND O'LAKES — What started as a trip to Walmart on Sunday night ended with a shotgun pellet lodged in Jake Everitt's arm.
The 26-year-old was leaning out of the passenger window of his girlfriend's Toyota Prius in the supercenter's parking lot when he said the driver of another vehicle fired a shotgun at him. Now the Pasco County Sheriff's Office is searching for the armed driver involved in what they're calling road rage.
"We're just lucky," Everitt said. "If it was a couple inches higher it would went into my neck and I would have been dead."
The pellet was lodged so deep, Everitt said, doctors could not remove it.
Deputies said the incident started on State Road 54 approaching U.S. 41 at about 10:50 p.m. Everitt and his girlfriend, Kandace Skaff, 28, were on their way to pick up Skaff's daughter at the Land O'Lakes supercenter.
Skaff changed lanes to pass a slower car and got behind a sport utility vehicle. Shortly thereafter, Everitt said, the SUV's driver slammed on the breaks to "brake check" Skaff. Everitt said he thought the driver did it because Skaff drove with her high beams on. Her regular headlights don't work very well.
"I think that might have (angered) them," Everitt said.
Both Skaff and the truck turned into the Walmart parking lot, where the SUV let Skaff pass. At that point, Everitt said, he leaned out the window with his arm to get a look at the SUV.
That's when the SUV driver fired at him, Everitt said. Afterward, deputies said the SUV driver sped off using Dale Mabry to escape.
The Prius took most of the pellets. The rear window shattered, Everitt said, and he counted 26 pellet holes.
"I'm just glad the little girl wasn't in the car," he said, "because it hit right where she sits."
Everitt drove himself to Medical Center of Trinity, where doctors could not remove the pellet.
"I have to live with it for the rest of my life," he said.