A Titusville fire inspector told authorities that he shot and wounded a man in self-defense while they argued about a minor traffic accident Thursday in Seminole County.
No one has been charged in the apparent road rage incident in the Mayfair Oaks subdivision south of Oviedo.
Mark Whorton, 50, a resident of Oviedo and a Titusville fire inspector for four years, told sheriff's deputies that a 2007 Honda Fit driven by Michael McClarin, 34, of Casselberry hit his 2007 Lexus at 6 p.m. on Chapman Road.
Whorton said McClarin then "attempted to hit him with his vehicle while (Whorton was) pointing out a black scuff mark and dent on the driver's side door" of his Lexus, Christie Ganley, a Seminole County sheriff's deputy, wrote in the incident report.
McClarin disputed that account. He said the Lexus was blocking the road, and as he tried to ease past, the car began to move and hit his Honda. McClarin then followed Whorton into the subdivision, cut him off and approached him.
"McClarin stated that at this point, Whorton shot him point blank in the chest" with a 9 mm semiautomatic handgun for which Whorton has a concealed-weapons permit, the deputy wrote.
Whorton called 9-1-1, at which time a dispatcher asked him why he shot McClarin.
"He assaulted me," said Whorton, who was returning from his workday in Titusville and was still wearing his uniform. "He came out and punched me right in the head."
The dispatcher asked Whorton to tell the victim to sit down.
"He doesn't want to talk to me because, you know, I'm the one who shot him," Whorton told the dispatcher. "He was highly agitated."
When the deputy arrived, McClarin was leaning against his car with a finger in the gunshot wound to stop the bleeding.
"McClarin told me to tell his family how much he loved them and to tell his children to do right and be strong," Ganley wrote.
McClarin was flown by helicopter to Orlando Regional Medical Center and was described as alert.
The firearm was surrendered to the police. One shell casing was found at the scene.
Wharton started at Titusville Fire and Emergency Services on May 10, 2006, and "has an exemplary record and a great rapport with the community," said Division Chief Scott Gaenicke, who added that Wharton has been an employee of the month and a recipient of the chief's award. "You've got to be a people person to be an inspector."
In his citation for employee of the month, Wharton was recognized for purchasing parts with his own money and repairing light fixtures for an elderly business owner.
He is one of two fire inspectors in the department and was placed on paid administrative leave after the shooting.
"It all depends on what happens with the police investigation," Gaenicke said. "But we also will be reviewing the case to see if any department policies were violated."