The fatal shooting of one driver by another at a Maple Grove intersection began with one of them criticizing the other's driving earlier that day near St. Cloud, a passenger in the victim's car said Thursday.
A 30-year-old Minneapolis man had been jailed since Monday in connection with the shooting death early Sunday afternoon of William F. Haire, 61, of Buffalo on Garland Lane at County Road 30.
However, the man was released from custody Thursday afternoon without charges being filed as the investigation continues. The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects who have yet to be charged.
Haire was shot in the abdomen while in his car with longtime girlfriend, Helen Wilson, at his side. He drove from the scene of the shooting before crashing into signs about a half-mile east near Interstate 94 and Maple Grove Parkway, according to a search warrant affidavit filed by law enforcement seeking permission to collect evidence from the shooter's SUV.
Emergency responders took Haire to North Memorial Health, where he died about two hours later, the Medical Examiner's Office said.
The search of the SUV turned up a .40-caliber handgun with ammunition and a magazine, as well as a gun case, the court filing read. Seven shell casings were recovered from the location where Haire was shot, the filing noted.
Wilson told the Star Tribune the encounter began when Haire spotted the SUV on Interstate 94 near St. Cloud "and was just concerned because they went around us, driving through lanes and stuff without putting their blinkers on. He was concerned about the other vehicles on the road."
Haire followed the SUV to a gas station in nearby Clearwater and questioned "why they were driving reckless," said Wilson, who added that the other driver had a passenger with him.
"They were yelling at Bill," she said.
The SUV driver got back on the interstate, and Haire resumed trailing the vehicle until they both exited at Maple Grove Parkway, Wilson said.
While stopped at a traffic light at Garland Lane and County Road 30, one of the men got out of the SUV, came up to the car and "was hitting my boyfriend in the face and the chest," said Wilson, whose account to police is also detailed in the search warrant affidavit.
Haire put the car in reverse, "trying to get away, but he kept getting hit in the chest and face," she said.
A moment later, one of the men in the SUV shot Haire with a handgun, Wilson said.
Police believe the man they arrested was the one who punched and shot Haire.
Wilson said Haire has approached motorists from time to time when he believed they weren't being safe drivers.
In Sunday's encounter, she said, "he was just following them, being a good Samaritan to make them stop, and they didn't want to."