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An engine revs, and man rams bumper

Authorities say he became angry while at a tollbooth and backed into a truck.

By DAVID DECAMP
Published March 6, 2007


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LAND O'LAKES - The encounter began innocently before dawn Saturday, when a silver compact car pulled up to a tollbooth on the Suncoast Parkway.

As driver Christopher Douglas Gillotte, 19, of Tampa searched for change to pay the $1 toll, a truck pulled up behind him.

Gillotte said the woman in the truck began revving her engine "aggressively" as he tried to pay the toll.

He turned and glared at her, temper rising.

Then, authorities said, things got a bit out of hand.

Gillotte shifted into reverse and rammed the pickup before driving off.

Driving the truck was Robin LeBlanc, 35. She said she did rev her engine - the 1990 GMC with 327,000 miles on the odometer was getting ready to stall.

"It was just so bizarre," she said. "He looked back at me and he just rammed me."

Then it was LeBlanc who got peeved. That truck's her pride and joy, she said.

She called the Florida Highway Patrol at *FHP on her mobile phone. She also had the tollbooth attendant call authorities .

She paid her toll and lit out after the car.

For 24 miles she pursued the silver car - at the speed limit. She stayed on her mobile phone with authorities the entire trip, she said, and stayed safely away from the car.

Gillotte was aware events had gone awry, he said Sunday.

At the next toll stop, he said, he tried to turn himself in to the attendant.

But he said he was told to continue to his intended destination, the National Guard Armory in Crystal River. He serves with the military police.

He didn't get that far. Seeing LeBlanc behind him, he stopped alongside the road and waited.

When authorities caught up with LeBlanc, she pointed to the slim man in fatigues standing by his car.

Gillotte was arrested and charged with aggravated battery, a felony. He was released Sunday on supervised recognizance from the Pasco County jail.

"I disagree with what I'm being charged with," Gillotte said before referring questions to his attorney.

"I know I shouldn't have handled it the way I did." he said. "I just wanted to settle it in a civil manner."

As for LeBlanc, who described herself as a seasonal resident of Tampa, the crash left her bumper dented and a blinker broken. Authorities estimated damage of $200, although LeBlanc put it a little higher.

"A little bit of road rage, I think," LeBlanc said.

David DeCamp can be reached at 727 869-6232 or ddecamp@sptimes.com.

[Last modified March 5, 2007, 23:08:07]


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