Road rage incident gets man jail time

Published 4:16 am Monday, February 2, 2004

By By NORMA LERNER / Niles Daily Star
CASSOPOLIS -- It was not a video game at a mall arcade.
It was the real thing in Dowagiac when two vehicles met at an intersection and one of the drivers pulled a gun and pointed it at the other.
One occupant in the car was a child who has now become afraid to be alone anywhere from the frightening experience.
It was on June 22, 2002, when 54-year-old Nicholas J. Grabarek of Merrifield Avenue, Mishawaka, Ind., became road raged when he apparently was cut off by victim Toby Brooks.
The pair met at the intersection of N. Front and E. Prairie Ronde Street when Grabarek pointed a handgun at Brooks.
Brooks shoved his 8-year-old son down in the seat and went to the Dowagiac Police Department to report the incident.
Cass County Circuit Judge Michael E. Dodge declared before imposing a 90-day jail sentence on each of two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon that carrying a weapon in a vehicle is a felony offense.
He said the gun was pointed at a motorist who had a small child in the car. "It doesn't matter who cut who off, it didn't warrant pulling a gun out."
Later in the day, Grabarek was arrested in Indiana for operating a vehicle while under the influence of liquor with a blood alcohol level of .12 percent -- well above the legal limit, Dodge noted.
Brooks addressed the court and said his son is afraid to take a shower by himself and has to have someone with him all the time.
Chief Assistant Prosecutor Jason Ronning said the crime requires jail time. One of the victims was a small child.
Brooks is asking for justice here, he claimed.
Defense Attorney James Miller said Grabarek has been in psychotherapy because of a closed-head injury. This incident came about out of fear of being harmed. He is getting alcohol treatment, he said. Grabarek told the court that he did not see the child at the time. He said he has lost most of his friends and family because of the incident and apologized to the court. Dodge also imposed two years of probation, $60 to the Crime Victims' fund, $60 state assessment, $800 in costs and a $500 fine. His jail time and probation for each count are to run concurrently.
Also sentenced on Friday were the following:
Police stopped Steward for speeding and discovered he had a package of heroin in his pant leg. With other charges pending, Dodge said he was not a candidate for probation and ordered $60 to the Crime Victims' fund and a $60 state assessment.
His terms are to run concurrently with credit for 34 days served. He is to pay $60 to the Crime Victims fund, $60 state assessment and $800 in costs.