An Independence man has been arrested in South Dakota and charged with murder in connection with Sunday’s road rage shooting at Sterling Avenue and Winner Road.
Christopher P. Taylor, 39, was charged today with second-degree murder and armed criminal action. Jackson County prosecutors have asked that he be held on $100,000 bond.
Police found Taylor in western South Dakota, 700 miles from Independence, thanks to the GPS in his white 2004 Toyota Sequoia.
Police, talking to witnesses and viewing video tape from local businesses, described what happened around 7:35 Sunday evening, starting at 23rd Street and Sterling.
Whitney Gray, 22, of Independence, pulled out of the Price Chopper, turned north on Sterling and stopped at the light at 23rd. Inside her silver Chevrolet minivan were three youths, ages 16, 3 and 16 months.
Video shows a large white SUV northbound “at a high rate of speed” coming to a stop behind Gray. The light changed, and surveillance video shows the SUV following Gray closely. Witnesses also said Gray was tailgaiting. He passed her on the right, and a witness said that was so close it almost caused a wreck.
Both came to a stop, side by side, at the red light at Winner. Witnesses saw a drink or a liquid thrown from the front passenger window of the minivan onto the SUV. Then the SUV moved into the intersection, and witnesses heard a pop they thought was a gunshot.
Both vehicles went north, but Gray barely made past the railroad tracks. She got to a driveway on the west side of Sterling. When police arrived, they found her with a gunshot near her collarbone on the right side. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police released an image of the SUV to the media, and Taylor’s father became concerned when he saw it on TV Monday evening. He tried to reach his son but couldn’t. Neither could Taylor’s mother or boss, and Taylor hadn’t showed up for work or called in – all out of character, the father said.
At Taylor’s home, the father found several items to be missing: clothing, camping gear, a .40-caliber handgun, an assault-style rifle, ammunition, pieces of gold and silver, and a guitar.
The father told police where Taylor had bought his Toyota Sequoia, and that dealer used the Gold Star tracking system to locate the vehicle at a motel in Box Elder, South Dakota. That’s in the western part of the state near Rapid City.
He was arrested this morning.