Neighbors defend man in Melbourne road-rage killing

Updated:

Loading

MELBOURNE, Fla. - Neighbors are defending a man accused of fatally shooting a car salesman during a road-rage incident in Melbourne on Saturday.

William Sherwood, 64, was charged with second-degree murder in the shooting. His bond was set at $300,000.

Sherwood, a Vietnam veteran, was arrested hours after John Pratt, a car sales manager at the Boniface Hiers Kia dealership, was shot and killed during a confrontation between the two men, police said.

The shooting happened while Pratt was on a test drive near Babcock Street and Brevard Drive, police said.

According to investigators, there was a driving disagreement between Sherwood and Pratt that ended with their cars bumping each other.

Police said Pratt got out of the car he was test-driving and confronted Sherwood, who was sitting in the driver's seat of his Toyota Corolla.

Pratt, who was unarmed, was subsequently shot by Sherwood, according to Melbourne police. He was rushed to Holmes Regional Medical Center, where he later died.

Investigators released the 911 call from the shooting.

"Tell me exactly what happened," said the operator.

"One car was pulled to the side and it's still in that position and another car was behind it. The driver of the front car got out to approach the driver in the back car and started yelling at him, and the driver in the back car shot him twice," the caller said.

"It's a horrible situation and something in law enforcement we do not want to see happen," said Lt. Dan Lynch with Melbourne police.

Warren Gilliem lives nearby and told WFTV he heard the incident unfold.

"Me and my neighbor were talking and we heard a squeal, the car hit and then we heard two gunshots," Gilliem said.

The general manager of the Kia dealership, Bob Digiacomo, told WFTV Pratt was a good person who wouldn't hurt anyone.

"It's just not possible. You hear 'road rage,' you think two people at each other's throats. John Pratt did not have a threatening bone in his body," Digiacomo said.

But Christy Shirey, who has known Sherwood for three years, said she's still in shock over his arrest.

"He's the kind of person that would give you the shirt off his back," one neighbor said of Sherwood. "I would trust Bill with my life. He was supposed to be here for Easter dinner."

The judge ordered that if Sherwood pays his bail and is released, he cannot have a firearm.