NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Aggressive driving is on the rise, and in Tennessee, residents are seeing some of the most road rage shootings in the U.S.
A four-year-old boy from Memphis, Nashville ICU nurse Caitlyn Kaufman and 36-year-old Christopher Sparks have all been killed in Tennessee during shootings that police attribute to road rage.
Sparks’ case has never been solved.
“I get really mad when people call it road rage because I think it trivializes it. It’s road murder, right? I mean, somebody took a gun, shot my brother at an intersection because he yelled at them for being a bad driver, and drove away,” brother Jason Sparks said.
According to a new study from Jerry, Tennessee ranked third for the most road rage shootings in the US, using data from Everytown and the Gun Violence Archive. The same data found road rage shootings killed three people and injured 25 in 2020, and in 2021, five were killed and 15 injured.
Researchers note that in 35 states, including Tennessee, drivers can have guns in their cars without a permit. It’s a policy Sparks’ brother, Jason, disagrees with.
“If you have a 32-ounce soda near you, you’re probably not going to use that to kill somebody if you’re in a road rage incident, but if you’ve got easy access to a handgun, there you go, right?” Jason said.
Jason doesn’t expect to see his brother’s case solved, but he does hope his story will cause drivers to think before grabbing their gun.
“My brother had his whole life in front of him and it was cut loose just as he was going home to walk his dog on his lunch break. Because somebody took offense to him yelling at them for being a bad driver. And we’re enabling that to happen every day,” Jason said.
The study doesn’t pinpoint the cause of what’s driving up road rage shootings; however, researchers note higher stress levels since the beginning of the pandemic.
If you have any information in the case of Chris Sparks, you’re asked to contact Nashville Crime Stoppers at 615-74-CRIME. You can be kept anonymous and could qualify for a $27,000 reward.