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Road rage goes beyond city limits #045;#045; It#039;s everywhere

Road rage is nothing new, but Monday night's tragic shooting in

Holmes County tells us it is not an epidemic exclusive to city folks.

In what is known as the state's Amish country, a car driven on State Route 241 near Mount Hope was pelted by tomatoes thrown from a nearby cornfield. The people hiding in the field were also allegedly shooting vehicles driving by with paintball guns.

The driver stopped, got out and threatened to shoot whoever was throwing the tomatoes.

The pranksters -- a group of about 10 people, ages 15 to 23 --

struck

the car with tomatoes a second time as it drove off.

According to reports, 25 minutes later the car passed the cornfield two more times. On the third trip, the driver stopped again, challenged the group to throw more tomatoes, then fired three to five shotgun blasts into the cornfield, killing Steven L. Keim, a 23-year-old Apple Creek resident. The shooter is still at large and has not been identified.

According to locals, the tomato throwing is an annual prank, although the paintball guns are out of character of the assailants, all of pacifist Amish heritage. The victim, who died of multiple pellet wounds to his chest, including to his lungs and left upper chamber of his heart, reportedly had left the church.

While one would think people of such a strict religious upbringing would be the last to pull such pranks, this is apparently not the case. Holmes County Sheriff's deputies said they have witnessed occasional pranks by members of the sect, but the use of paintball guns was far beyond the norm.

A lot could be said about what should not have been done. First, the youths should not have been throwing tomatoes at passing vehicles. An annual prank or not, an unsuspecting motorist could lose control of their car and crash.

The driver should not have stopped, made return trips to the scene or make further challenges. He or she should have contacted authorities and handled it in a more civilized manner.

Also, the pranksters should not have reacted to the challenge. As this case shows, one never knows who is on the other end of the challenge or what the outcome may be.

Lastly, the use of firearms in response to a relatively innocent -- albeit irritating -- incident is beyond imagination.

Even in the most remote, rural areas, road rage is obviously a problem. It is a shame that someone in our society could let their emotions take control of them in such a destructive matter they would kill another human being for being an annoyance. I, for one, hope justice is served promptly.

Shawn Doyle is managing editor of The Ironton Tribune. He can be reached by calling (740) 532-1445, ext 19 or by e-mail (shawn.doyle@irontontribune.com).