Fear blamed in I-94 rage
Mom: Woman going through rough time
March 19, 2007
BY GINA DAMRON and CHRISTY ARBOSCELLO
FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
The Dodge Ram weaved closely behind her, following her from lane to lane.
Bernadette Houghton Headd -- who was enduring stress from caring for sick loved ones -- was convinced she would be run off the highway.
And she snapped.
Police say that Headd pulled her 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier alongside the pickup as the two vehicles traveled down I-94 in Harrison Township last month.
She then grabbed the 9mm pistol she's been licensed to carry for nine years, pointed it out of the window and fired at the tires of the truck driven by a New Baltimore man, police say.
The 39-year-old Macomb Township woman is due in Macomb County Circuit Court at 1:30 p.m. today before Judge Diane Druzinski on charges of assault with a deadly weapon, discharge of a firearm from a motor vehicle and using a firearm during a felony.
She was arraigned on those charges Feb. 22 in 41-B District Court in Clinton Township, stemming from the road-rage incident the previous morning. Her case was bound over to the county court for a pretrial hearing and arraignment. If convicted, she faces up to six years in prison.
When she was arrested, she told police, "I'm tired of people tailgating me."
But her mother said Headd was fearful during a trying and turbulent time in her life. She had been caring for her mother, who had a kidney transplant in December, and for her 18-year-old son, who had surgery in January for scoliosis, Del-Marie Headd said Saturday.
"When you're afraid for your life, I mean, what is it you're supposed to do?" she asked, defending her daughter who, she said, didn't intend to strike the truck.
Headd is a good shot, often firing at a shooting range once a month, her mother said.
"She was more or less trying to scare him off."
Law enforcement officials say there's no excuse: What if the stray bullet hit someone?
"We went out looking for the round along the roadway, but that was a morning with a lot of fog," Macomb County Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wickersham has said.
Like so many of the thousands of Michiganders licensed to carry concealed weapons, Headd got the gun so she would feel safe. She wanted to be able to protect her mother, who had been mugged, and her only son.
When someone licensed to carry a gun is accused of using it to commit a crime, the permit is automatically suspended pending a revocation hearing while the criminal case is pending, the Macomb County Sheriff's Office said.
While it's that type of handgun abuse that fuels the debate between gun advocates and gun control groups, Del-Marie Headd said recklessness is uncharacteristic for her daughter, who takes reservations for Spirit Airlines.
"She did a very stupid thing," her Madison Heights-based lawyer Leslie Kutinsky said, adding that he'd like to work out a deal since his client doesn't have a criminal record. "I feel bad for this lady, so I'm doing everything I can do to help her."
She's been held in Macomb County Jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond.
The driver of the Ram truck did not return calls for this report.
Del-Marie Headd said her daughter is upset by her actions.
"She's cried about it," she said. "We've all cried about it. But you know, stuff happens."
Contact GINA DAMRON at 248-351-3293 or firstname.lastname@example.org
. Staff writer Steve Neavling contributed to this report.