Posted: 6:00 pm Monday, January 13th, 2014

Unlike New Jersey, Georgia’s traffic scandal involved gunfire 

By Jim Galloway

BULLET 1_66207_214795

When a Georgia traffic feud erupted into gunfire — a traffic signal at the Fulton County edge of the Chattahoochee River was assassinated with a deer slug.

The Washington crowd is still mulling over the impact of a manufactured traffic jam on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s potential as a 2016 GOP presidential candidate.

The Post today is skeptical, saying polling isn’t showing any abrupt decrease in the big guy’s popularity.

It would be tempting to say that only in the New York-New Jersey corridor could such things happen. But an AJC colleague has reminded me that we had something similar erupt a few years ago.

But, this being the South, gunfire was involved. Deer slugs, more specifically. A traffic signal died under mysterious circumstances. The piece below dates to July 1997, and was written by AJC reporters Carlos Campos and Scott Marshall.

I’ve lost track of Marshall, but Campos is now directing communications for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Take a read:

Police are trying to figure out who shot the traffic control box at the intersection of Johnson Ferry Road and Riverside Drive, the epicenter of an increasingly hostile commuter feud between Cobb and Fulton counties.

But Fulton County traffic engineers said Wednesday’s early storms, not a pair of slugs, probably put the traffic light out of action. Workers had the signal operating a few hours later.

In a move to show some willingness to compromise, Fulton County increased by 10 seconds the length of green light that Johnson Ferry Road motorists will have to the cross into Sandy Springs.

On Monday, Fulton County Transportation Administrator Nayef Haddad reduced the length of the green light from two minutes to 50 seconds, causing more gridlock than usual on Johnson Ferry Road.

Haddad was condemned by Cobb motorists for his action but hailed as a hero by homeowners in Sandy Springs who contend the traffic pouring in from Cobb makes it difficult for them to get out of their driveways in the mornings.

The feud took a dark twist Wednesday, when Fulton County police discovered someone had fired two bullets from a “large caliber” weapon at the intersection’s traffic control box.

Police were notified about 6:30 a.m. that power had been knocked out to the intersection. Two officers directed traffic in a steady drizzle for the next four hours.

A public works crew arrived at 10:15 a.m., and snipped off the padlock on the metal box. One shot had ripped through the steel cover, creating a hole 3 to 4 inches wide and an inch and a half high.

“That’s an elephant bullet, man, ” exclaimed crew member Anthony Riggins when he spotted a large, slightly crushed slug lying inside the box.

Police reported no suspects and no leads in the shooting, nor could they immediately identify the weapon that fired the bullet. Spokesman Capt. Donald Cook said the bullet —only one was recovered —will be sent to the State Crime Lab. Cook said whoever fired the bullets could be charged with interfering with government property, criminal damage to property and discharging a weapon too close to a road.

However, later in the day, Haddad said none of the signal box’s digital and electrical equipment was damaged by the gunfire, which is why he is nearly certain the light was actually knocked out by Wednesday’s storm. “We had other signals knocked out too,” he said.

A footnote to Wednesday’s drama: Cars on Johnson Ferry Road out of Cobb County appeared to move much more smoothly with two Fulton County police officers directing traffic at the intersection. “They were applauding, ” Cpl. E.C. Johnson said.

Haddad, however, said he thinks Wednesday’s lighter traffic was due to fewer drivers using Johnson Ferry Road.

Meanwhile, politicians renewed attempts to take the discussion to a less violent level. Fulton and Cobb had reached an agreement last year to solve the traffic problem by widening Johnson Ferry and Abernathy roads on the Fulton County side, to give commuters a more direct path to Ga. 400. However, restrictions of the federal Clean Air Act have indefinitely blocked construction.

Fulton County Commission Chairman Mitch Skandalakis, who cut short a vacation in Greece and will return to Atlanta today, has ordered a letter sent to House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) asking for help in exempting the project from the federal restrictions. Gingrich represents both sides of the river.

On the Cobb County side, Commission Chairman Bill Byrne again said he plans to meet with Gov. Zell Miller, to ask him to intervene.

As I recall, the shooter was never caught. Skandalakis did end up going to prison, but not for anything associated with the above event.

6 comments
Jhank
Jhank

I doubt if any top official in the Georgia Governor’s office would stoop low enough to commit conspiracy to unlawfully interfere with interstate commerce, as was done in New Jersey. If terrorists had jeopardized public safety the way top aides to the Governor of New Jersey did. We would say send them to Go tan amore Bay Cuba spelled the right way. Who hired those people?

MiltonMan
MiltonMan

Wow - a new low for the libs at the AJC.  Bringing up an article fom 1997 to bash the GOP???  No wonder subscription rates to this rag of a newspaper continus to dwindle.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Not long before we will all have bullet holes.  If the Republicans have their way - children will be shooting each other, college students will settle all debates with shoot outs, cell phone use will be dictated by the fastest draw, the freeways will be a roving auto shoot out for every perceived slight and failure to signal.  The pastor will fire at any parishioner snoozing during the sermon.  All divorces will be finalized with only one member left standing.  There will be no need for healthcare - euthanasia by firing squad for all illnesses.  The N.R.A. and gun manufacturers are salivating (little do they know that Syrian death squads have targeted them for extermination).

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

The JFR - Riverside Drive traffic light assassination should have been ruled justified homicide.  

Bernie31
Bernie31

I cannot wait untilf that First Braves Game in Cobb County, Vinings,Powers Ferry and many others will become Parking Lots for Game visitors. The local residents will become prisoners of their own Homes.


Emergencies....fer get About it!

BuckheadBoy
BuckheadBoy

@Ralph-43  This happened last evening in a theater in Florida while you were responding to this post:


"Officials said Oulson asked Reeves if he reported him to management for using his phone. Cummings said the men started raising their voices and popcorn was thrown. Authorities said Reeves took out a gun, and Oulson's wife put her hand over her husband, and that's when Reeves fired his weapon, striking Nichole Oulson in the hand and her husband in the chest."


And the name of the theater is the Cobb.


A coincidence? No, just another night in Banana Republican land.



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  1. […] Unlike New Jersey, Georgia's traffic scandal involved gunfire The Washington crowd is still mulling over the impact of a manufactured traffic jam on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's … But, this being the South, gunfire was involved. … However, restrictions of the federal Clean Air Act have indefinitely … Read more on Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) […]