Syracuse man sentenced for two road rage incidents

(Photo supplied/Kosciusko County Sheriff's Department)

by Michael Anderson, Times-Union

A Syracuse man will serve up to 13 and a half years in prison after two road rage incidents, including one in which he was shot by police.

25-year-old Alexander Jackson was sentenced Friday by Judge Stephen Bowers in Elkhart Superior Court II. He pleaded guilty April 28 to five felony counts from the two incidents, including attempted aggravated battery and battery on a law enforcement official.

Jackson originally was charged with attempted murder, but that was reduced to attempted aggravated battery as part of a plea agreement.

The charges resulted from a road rage incident on July 27 when Jackson rampaged through North Webster in a truck hauling a utility trailer in an while chasing two men.

During a southbound chase along Ind. 13, Jackson was firing a gun in the direction of the vehicle he was chasing.

Jackson’s chase ended with him being shot by Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department deputy Don McCune, after Jackson allegedly revved his engine and attempted to ram McCune’s squad car.

The estimated damage to property caused by Jackson was over $130,000, according to Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department Sergeant Chad Hill.

Jackson was taken to jail after recovering in the hospital.

After Jackson bonded out, police say he tried to run one of the men off the road Sept. 11, resulting in a second set of charges.

(Gary Nieter / Times Union)

Bowers sentenced Jackson to a total of 23 and a half years in the Indiana Department of Corrections, with 10 years suspended, on the five counts.

Jackson’s friends and family gasped as the sentence was announced.

Jackson apologized for his actions and told the judge he had a drinking problem.

“I met with my pastor and  I’m able to realize I can’t drink anymore,” Jackson said. He added that waking up in the hospital after being shot was a huge wake-up call for him.

Others who testified on his behalf laid the blame on alcohol.

“Alcohol is an insidious drug,” said Jackson’s attorney, Donald ?Swanson. He said as long Jackson doesn’t drink, a repeat incident is unlikely to happen.

One of the victims said, “He needs to pay for what he did. He put hundreds of innocent women’s and children’s lives at risk.”

Another victim said that he was driving with the other victim when Jackson began chasing him south of Syracuse on Ind. 13.

He said he drove in and out traffic to avoid Jackson, and Jackson began to fire his handgun at the truck.

The brakes went out in his truck during the chase and he was forced to drive through North Webster.

“I’ve spent my life behind the wheel,” the victim said, speaking of his experience as a race car driver and participation in demolition derbys. “That’s the only reason Bryon and I lived,” he said.

The victim said he and Jackson had differences and didn’t like each other, but usually they stayed out of each other’s way.

He said many of the problems between the two came when he would have to go get Jackson’s wife in the middle of the night, due to Jackson threatening her.

He was married to Jackson’s wife’s sister at the time.

He testified he’s had trouble sleeping since the incident and he’s always been looking over his shoulder in town.

“I have  to drive by his house every day when I go to my girlfriend’s house,” he said. He added that especially since Jackson did it a second time, he can never be sure that Jackson wouldn’t try again to kill him.

The other victim was not present at the hearing due to complications with his wife’s pregnancy, said Deputy Elkhart Prosecutor Laura Bird said.

McCune didn’t want to testify due to potential conflicts with Jackson’s father,  Brad Jackson, who is a Kosciusko County commissioner, Bird said.

“He didn’t even want be in the courtroom, but he’s here to find out what happens,” Bird said.

“The Jackson family is not on trial here,” Bowers said, responding to an objection by Swanson.

Jackson’s family tried to convince the judge that Alex had paid his price.

“He’s been shot. He lost his business,” said Brad Jackson. “What Alex did is very out of character for him.” He asked the judge to not send Alex away due to the hardship it would cause Alex’s daughters.

Jackson’s pastor, Jeff Boyer, said alcoholism led to Jackson’s actions.

“He learned his lesson, he is good honorable man,” said stepmom Lynette Jackson.

Bird argued the first incident occurred while Jackson was on probation, and the second occurred while out on bond, which proved that Jackson had not learned his lesson.

“Everyone is blaming alcohol. There is only one person to blame here and that is Alex Jackson.” She asked the judge not to forget the second incident, which happened after Jackson’s “wake-up call.”

Bowers agreed with Bird, pointing out that the terms of Jackson’s Florida probation required he get treatment, which he never did.

“Your wake-up call should of been  long before you woke up at the hospital,”?Bowers said. “You placed a large number of people at risk … We’re fortunate that this isn’t a murder charge,” he said.

Afterward, Jackson was placed in handcuffs and taken into custody to begin serving his time.

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