PITTSBURGH - A tow truck driver was shot and paralyzed during a showdown with another tow truck driver in early February. His attorney said he's a victim of a tow truck turf war.
Jason Stotlemeyer drove past an accident scene on Washington Boulevard that afternoon, in an area that he doesn't normally service. He got into an argument with a tow truck driver from a rival company in the middle of the afternoon on Feb. 2.
"They started threatening him, verbally attacking him, abusive. When my client wouldn't leave, they said OK we're going to call in another individual," said Casey White, Stotlemeyer's attorney.
White says that third person threatened his client with physical harm, so Stotlemeyer grabbed a bat out of his truck and that's when he was shot. Doctors at UPMC Presby say he is paralyzed from the chest down.
HEARTBREAKING PHOTOS ->— Courtney Brennan (@WPXI_Courtney) February 13, 2019
Paralyzed from the chest down, the tow truck driver shot during an argument with a rival company speaking to us.
His is a new father and dealing with the fact that he’ll never walk again.
He says the towing business in #Pittsburgh is savage. #WPXI pic.twitter.com/EL1uziiYXL
"It's like a rival gang, mob mentality," Stotlemeyer said.
He had only started his job as a tow truck driver four weeks ago and told Channel 11 that his friends and colleagues had warned him it was a cutthroat and savage business.
Stotlemeyer is the new father of a 6-month-old boy and still coming to grips with the fact that he will never walk again.
"When I thought I was going to pass, I was screaming his name because I can't imagine him growing up without me being around," Stottlemeyer said.
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Channel 11 spoke with the owner of the other tow truck company, who says Stotlemeyer was the aggressor.
Pittsburgh police say this case remains under investigation and review.
They are still interviewing witnesses and trying to make a determination of whether the shooting was self-defense and therefore justified.
Stotlemeyer says the towing business in Pittsburgh is cutthroat and he wants criminal charges filed.
"It's a very dangerous business and I didn't realize what I was getting myself into," he said.
Since this incident, the city has announced it was cracking down on tow truck companies to prevent things like this from happening.
Mayor Bill Peduto wants each city zone to have one tow company that services it to prevent trucks from racing to the scene and to protect drivers.
White told Channel 11 the city has known for several years these tow truck companies sometimes operate like gangs with turf wars and violence and that something needs to be done.
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