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Road rage escalates to gunshots, suicide in Arroyo Grande

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What started as a simple left-hand turn in rural Arroyo Grande quickly turned violent and tragic. Robert Hernandez, 56, of Avila Beach, yelled at a driver who tried to pass him, fired gunshots at the fleeing vehicle, and then—roughly 90 minutes later—shot and killed himself in front of Sheriff’s Department deputies and detectives on Aug. 7.

According to Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Tony Cipolla, Hernandez killed himself at 10:30 p.m., immediately after exiting a house in the 100 block of Shelby Way, where authorities believe he was renting a room.

Hernandez had been trying to turn left onto Appy Way off Lopez Drive around 9 p.m., when a pickup truck tried to pass him on the right. Both drivers yelled at each other, but didn’t leave their vehicles, Cipolla said.

When the truck tried to turn away from Hernandez’s vehicle shortly afterward, Cipolla said Hernandez fired between one and three shots at the truck, with one bullet lodging in the lining around the rear window.

The Sheriff’s Department responded to a 911 call about the gunfire, and eventually tracked down Hernandez’s car outside the Shelby Way house.

After deputies established contact with Hernandez via a cell phone and a PA system, Cipolla said, Hernandez killed himself with the same firearm immediately after exiting the otherwise-unoccupied house.

Cipolla said the serial number was removed from the gun, so detectives were unable to determine the origin or legality of the weapon.

Sheriff’s Department detectives are continuing to investigate the suicide. Cipolla said the main mystery is figuring out how and why the situation escalated so rapidly.

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