WOODBURN, Ore. – Ethan Carey said he had to pull the trigger.
“It’s important for everyone to know that I was not the aggressor,” he said.
Carey was being crushed between two cars on the Interstate 5 overpass in Woodburn. His collar bone split into six pieces.
“The center of my collar bone explodes upward and at that point I had a deathly fear for my life and that he was trying to kill me.”
A grand jury on Thursday ruled that Carey was justified in shooting Lejeune Bryant on the busy overpass in Woodburn on Feb. 9. Carey fired three shots from his .45 caliber handgun into Bryant’s windshield.
Investigators said the shooting followed a minor fender-bender where one vehicle had lightly rear-ended another on the overpass. Carey and Bryant got back into their vehicles after agreeing to get off the overpass to exchange information. That’s when Carey said his wife told him to get back out and take a photo of Bryant’s license plate.
“I got down on my hands and knees between the two vehicles,” he said.
Carey said he heard Bryant’s engine just as the car moved forward and pinned him to his own car.
“Shooting him was the only thing that I had to do,” said Carey. “If I had another course of action I would have taken it.”
Police said the car accidentally moved forward as Bryant got out to see what Carey was doing. Then when Bryant jumped back in the car he mistakenly hit the gas pedal, crushing Carey a second time.
Carey, who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, believes it was intentional. He felt justified to defend his life with his handgun. A grand jury agreed, but that hasn’t healed Carey’s wounds.
His wife and two young daughters were inside the car when it happened. Carey said his oldest daughter now fears loud noises.
“I wouldn’t wish what I’ve had to go through on anyone,” he said.
Bryant recovered from his wounds after surgery at OHSU. Carey said he did not pursue charges for the sake of his family.