Road Rage: Dad Of 2 Asks Crazy Driver, ‘What’s Your Problem?’ Driver Pulls Out Gun And Kills Him [UPDATED]

In a senseless and sickening road rage incident in Howell, Michigan, last week, a 43-year-old dad of two got out of his car to ask an erratic pickup truck driver, “What’s your problem?” Without saying a word, the pickup driver pulled out a gun and shot the man in the face at point-blank range, in cold blood, according to witness accounts.

For the latest update to this story, see the bottom of this article.

Derek Flemming, who owned his own landscaping company, and his wife Amy were on their way to pick up their two kids from their first day of school on September 3 when Derek Flemming was shot by Martin Zale, 69, as Amy Flemming watched in horror from the passenger seat of their 2014 Ford Escape.

Amy rushed out of the car screaming, witnesses said, and bent down to her husband, frantically pleading with him to “Stay alive for your kids,” imploring her husband, “We need you, we need you!”

But Flemming was mortally wounded by the bullet to his head from Zale’s gun, and he died at the scene.

Meanwhile, Zale calmly got out of his car and waited for police to show up. When they did, he refused to tell them what happened, simply demanding a lawyer.

Zale was charged with murder and is being held without bail.

Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte would not say whether Zale had a valid concealed carry permit for his gun, The Detroit Free Press reported. But at at Zale’s arraignment Thursday prosecutor William Valliencourt said that the alleged shooter did have a valid permit for the gun, which he showed to police who arrested him.

According to witness accounts, including an account by Amy Flemming told to the family’s lawyer, William Moore, the couple were driving down Grand River Avenue to pick up their kids, ages five and seven. Suddenly, they saw a pickup truck “screaming down a side street” directly at them.

The Flemmings thought the truck was about to hit them, but it swerved wildly and cut them off instead. The truck then fell behind the Flemming’s vehicle, so Derek Flemming pulled to the side to let him pass. Instead, Zale tailgated them — until he screeched out ahead of their vehicle, then slammed on his brakes at a traffic light.

That’s when, according to witness accounts, Derek Flemming got out of the car and asked Zale what his problem was — and Zale shot and killed him.

Moore said that he has hired a private investigator to conduct an independent probe of Zale’s background, after the sheriff’s department said that Zale had no criminal record.

“I’ve known Derek’s mom for 10 years or more,” Moore said. “I know he was a great father and his kids loved him. That much I know because I’ve seen the way he interacted with them over the past few years. The kids are sweethearts. They don’t get it yet. They’re basically in shock. I’ve got a client and two little kids who are fatherless now.”

The two children still do not realize that their father is dead, Moore said.

According to reports, Zale plans to claim self-defense in the road rage killing.

In a senseless and sickening road rage incident in Howell, Michigan, last week, a 43-year-old dad of two got out of his car to ask an erratic pickup truck driver, “What’s your problem?” Without saying a word, the pickup driver pulled out a gun and shot the man in the face at point-blank range, in cold blood, according to witness accounts.

Derek Flemming, who owned his own landscaping company, and his wife Amy were on their way to pick up their two kids from their first day of school on September 3 when Derek Flemming was shot by Martin Zale, 69, as Amy Flemming watched in horror from the passenger seat of their 2014 Ford Escape.

Amy rushed out of the car screaming, witnesses said, and bent down to her husband, frantically pleading with him to “Stay alive for your kids,” imploring her husband, “We need you, we need you!”

But Flemming was mortally wounded by the bullet to his head from Zale’s gun, and he died at the scene.

Meanwhile, Zale calmly got out of his car and waited for police to show up. When they did, he refused to tell them what happened, simply demanding a lawyer.

Zale was charged with murder and is being held without bail.

Livingston County Sheriff Bob Bezotte would not say whether Zale had a valid concealed carry permit for his gun, The Detroit Free Press reported. But at at Zale’s arraignment Thursday prosecutor William Valliencourt said that the alleged shooter did have a valid permit for the gun, which he showed to police who arrested him.

According to witness accounts, including an account by Amy Flemming told to the family’s lawyer, William Moore, the couple were driving down Grand River Avenue to pick up their kids, ages five and seven. Suddenly, they saw a pickup truck “screaming down a side street” directly at them.

The Flemmings thought the truck was about to hit them, but it swerved wildly and cut them off instead. The truck then fell behind the Flemming’s vehicle, so Derek Flemming pulled to the side to let him pass. Instead, Zale tailgated them — until he screeched out ahead of their vehicle, then slammed on his brakes at a traffic light.

That’s when, according to witness accounts, Derek Flemming got out of the car and asked Zale what his problem was — and Zale shot and killed him.

Moore said that he has hired a private investigator to conduct an independent probe of Zale’s background, after the sheriff’s department said that Zale had no criminal record.

“I’ve known Derek’s mom for 10 years or more,” Moore said. “I know he was a great father and his kids loved him. That much I know because I’ve seen the way he interacted with them over the past few years. The kids are sweethearts. They don’t get it yet. They’re basically in shock. I’ve got a client and two little kids who are fatherless now.”

The two children still do not realize that their father is dead, Moore said.

According to reports, Zale plans to claim self-defense in the road rage killing.

UPDATE: Zale claimed at his trial that he killed Derek Flemming in self-defense, saying that Flemming had hit him in the face and verbally threatened him with further harm. When Flemming reached into his car, Zale said, he grabbed his 9mm Ruger semi-automatic and fired once.

Zale told the court that he did, in fact, intend to kill Flemming.

A website was created to support Zale, claiming that the man’s killing of Derek Flemming was permitted under Michigan’s “Stand Your Ground” law.

“He had no duty to retreat, and had every right to stand his ground, including deadly force as he reasonably believed it necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself,” the site says.

But a jury didn’t buy it and neither did a judge. On May 14, Zale was found guilty of second-degree murder. Then on June 12, Judge Miriam Cavanaugh told Zale that she was appalled by his lack of remorse over the murder of the father of two.

“You were a shooting waiting to happen,” Cavanaugh told Zale. “If it hadn’t been Mr. Flemming, it would have been someone else.”

The judge sentenced Martin Zale to 27 to 50 years in prison, nearly double the Michigan-suggested sentence of 15 to 25 years. Zale will not come up for parole until he is 96 years old. But his lawyer says he plans to appeal the guilty verdict.

[Images: Police handouts]