Yellowstone Visitor Arrested for Pointing Machete at Driver
"'I got out to go back and talk to him and that guy came out with a machete...a big black machete, about three feet long... that's what it looked like...'"
Bears and bison got nothing on road ragers in Yellowstone National Park.
A Yellowstone National Park visitor was arrested for simple assault after he allegedly confronted a driver and his wife in a road rage incident on Wednesday evening.
A park ranger responded to a report of an assault in a construction zone along South Entrance Road (U.S. Highway 191) near Grant Junction, according to an affidavit accompanying the charge of simple assault he wrote and filed with U.S. District Court on Friday.
Two other rangers also responded and found the people involved were in their respective two vehicles parked along the southbound lane.
Construction company workers told the drivers to park there and said they would call law enforcement.
The ranger checked drivers' licenses, interviewed witnesses and saw video taken by witnesses.
Here commenceth the tale of Yellowstone road rage as told in the ranger's affidavit:
George Murray was driving with his wife Nina Murray in a Volkswagen sedan.
John Luczkowski was driving a white Ford Transit van, tailgating the Volkswagen, and saw George Murray "flip him off once or twice," according to the ranger's affidavit.
The vehicles stopped at the construction site.
Witnesses saw Murray get out of the Volkswagen, walked to the van and yell at Luczkowski, who then got out of his van and walk towards Murray and his VW "with a large knife."
Meanwhile, Nina Murray got out of the VW on the passenger's side and one of Luczkowski's passengers, Jamilah Amatur-Razzaq, got out of the van to physically confront her.
Luczkowski also confronted her and shoved her back in the passenger seat. A video appears to show Luczkowski without the knife.
A separate video shows George Murray trying to intervene when Luczkowski and Amatur-Razzaq were surrounding his wife.
Luczkowski then returned to the van with the weapon unsheathed.
Another ranger distributed forms for those involved to write their statements.
George Murray told the rangers that Luckowski had been tailgating him for about five miles before he stopped.
Murray said, "'I got out to go back and talk to him and that guy came out with a machete...a big black machete, about three feet long... that's what it looked like...I told him to get back in the car and I was getting back in the car but there was two of them on my wife and they had her on the ground and I wasn't gonna' stand for that, that's when I got hurt and I come around here...and I was yelling at them, I said "hey she she's seventy years old, don't be doing that."'"
The ranger interviewed Nina Murray who said Luczkowski and Amatur-Razzaq went to her while she was in the VW. She got out and argued with them before "'they started shovin' on me'" and that Luczkowski "'...kept shaking it (referring to the machete) like, in front of me' while gesturing that the machete was raised at approximately at a forty-five degree angle from his elbow towards her."
When asked who physically contacted her, she responded, "'I'm not sure cause I was backin' up.'"
Meanwhile, the ranger earlier had placed Luczkowski his patrol vehicle, got him out and arrested him for disorderly conduct.
Luczkowski was taken to the Yellowstone Holding Facility on Thursday.
Another ranger conducted an in-custody, post-Miranda interview during which Luczkowski confirmed that "he exited the vehicle with the machete in order to encourage George Murray to get back into his vehicle. Luczkowski believed he dropped the machete during his interaction with Nina Murray but was unsure."
Court records do not indicate the residences of the Murrays, Luczkowski or Amatur-Razzaq.
Friday morning, Luczkowski made his initial appearance to formally hear the charge before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Hambrick in the federal courthouse in Mammoth, Yellowstone National Park.
He pleaded not guilty.
Hambrick released him on a $1,500 unsecured bond, ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victims, nor discuss the case with witnesses.
His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 2.