Two men were shot during a confrontation on a rural road in Wayne County, Illinois, early Sunday morning, but authorities say the man fired in self-defense.
The Courier & Press reported that 26-year-old Erick Paula said he was at a party earlier in the day when the two men, Blaze Greenwood, 22, and Alex Barrowman, 23, began to harass him. According to Paula — who is black — the two men — who are white — were making racially motivated remarks toward him. Paula asked them to stop and thought that was the end of it.
Paula later left with party with a friend, who gave him a ride to another area where Paula’s own car was located. What he didn’t know at the time was Greenwood and Barrowman also left the party and followed him.
Then, around 3:30 a.m., as Paula was driving on a rural road on his way home, a black SUV pulled up behind him and started to flash their lights. Paula, not knowing it was the two men and thinking the vehicle was only wanting to pass, began to pull to the side of the road. The SUV then pulled ahead of Paula’s vehicle and cut him off.
Greenwood and Barrowman then got out of the SUV, came towards Paula and told him they wanted to fight. In an attempt to diffuse the situation, Paula informed the duo he did not wish to fight them. He also explained he had a concealed carry license and was carrying a gun.
But the men were persistent and continued to entice Paula to fight as they got closer to him. When they were about 12 inches from him, Paula pulled out a .22-caliber handgun and opened fire. He emptied a 10 round magazine, striking Barrowman once and Greenwood several times.
The two men then got back into their vehicle and drove themselves to the hospital, while Paula immediately drove to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department to report the incident.
The conditions of the two men are not currently known, but Barrowman was transferred to another hospital in Evansville.
Authorities interviewed the three parties involved in the altercation, and Barrowman, who said he grabbed for Paula’s gun, admitted that he and Greenwood “went looking for Paula for a fist fight.”
The investigation is ongoing, but according to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, no charges are expected to be filed against Paula, who acted in self-defense.