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On July 23, 2015, in Citrus County, Florida, Robert Doyle and Candelario Gonzalez had a very bad day. Both men made intemperate statements during a road rage incident. Gonzalez had his wife and two child relatives in the car with him and followed Doyle and Doyle’s wife to their home. Gonzalez’ wife reported to 911 that “My husband wants to go whoop his (expletive).” As cronicleonline.com reports, Gonzalez said,

“He just flipped me off, I’m going to kick him right in his (expletive). … I’m going to follow him right to his house,” Gonzalez can be heard saying on the call as his wife talks to a 911 dispatcher.

Doyle’s statements were more of a defensive nature:

“My gun’s already out, it’s cocked and locked. I’m going home, the gun’s coming out and I’m going to put it to his (expletive) head. … It’s going down right now,” Doyle told a dispatcher.

Gonzalez got out of his vehicle and approached Doyle…who shot him. Gonzalez died at the scene.

I had used this story as an example of how everything you say to a 911 operator is recorded, and that you have to be careful with your language. And that returning to your home when you know someone is following you is a bad idea.

Of the five shots that Doyle fired in rapid succession, four hit Gonzalez, and one hit a building across the street. Doyle was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm, and shooting at a building.

A little over a year after the shooting, all charges against Doyle have been dropped after a stand-your-ground hearing by Citrus County Judge Richard Howard.

Howard found Robert Eric Doyle, 52, was acting in self-defense July 23, 2015, when he shot and killed Candelario Reyneldo Gonzalez in the middle of a Beverly Hills street before ordering Gonzales’ wife and two child relatives out of the victim’s car at gunpoint.

Howard’s ruling came after a stand-your-ground hearing to drop all counts against Doyle, who was charged with second-degree murder with a firearm, three counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and shooting at a dwelling.

The law states that “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity … has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his ground and meet force with force … if he reasonably believes it is necessary to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or others.”

Howard’s (sic) found that 44-year-old Gonzalez, who was unarmed, had no reason to keep following Doyle and his wife during the altercation, which occurred on the roads between Citrus Hills and Doyle’s home off South Desoto Street.

We don’t know how much a year of lawyers’ fees cost Doyle to get to this point. I’m certain that both the Doyle and Gonzalez families wish the event had never taken place. It’s an excellent example of how the stand-your-ground law works in Florida, (unlike the more famous Zimmerman/Martin case, where despite popular myth, the stand-your-ground law was never invoked).

While the charges were eventually dropped, the initial cautions remain just as valid. Everything you say to 911 will be recorded, and used against you if possible.

If someone is aggressively following you, don’t lead them to your home. A fire station is a better choice. Unlike police stations, they’re usually open all hours. The people there are used to dealing with emergencies.

On the other side, don’t follow someone who you believe failed to respect you in traffic. Those who carry have been taught to be careful and restrained in their interactions with others, so as to avoid situations such as this. It’s a lesson we can all benefit from.

©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.
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48 Responses to One Year Later, Shooter Cleared in Florida Road Rage Case

  1. If you’re pursuing someone in your car don’t have a surprised look on your face when you get shot. There’s somewheres between 3-400 million guns in this country. Do not, I say again, do not get into a confrontation with a stranger. Go home. Cool off. Think happy thoughts.

    Otherwise your wife may be feeding your replacement steaks bought with your insurance payout.

    • The reccomendation to go to a firehouse for protection during a road rage incident is fine and good B-U-T the shooter DID go home and left the street artery where the road rage incident happened. No matter what he said in the car that was recorded the fact is that he RETREATED to his home for safety and Gonzolez followed him there with ill intent to harm him and his family. Doyle was in his driveway, and Gonzolez walked up to him with ill intent. I would have shot him in the leg , but that is another story. In most states you need to be IN your home to shoot someone under the “casle doctirne”. B-U-T, if the provacation happened somewhere else and the threat followed you home, yoiu may have a reasonable fear of imminent death and act accordingly. I could see how this verdict was for “not guilty”.

  2. This is a tragedy no matter what. I am assuming Gonzalez was not armed with a firearm? If I would have been Doyle, and I knew for sure Gonzalez was not armed, I would welcome him coming after me. It is rare these days you can really beat someone’s ass with full immunity.

    • Didn’t I read on this site just recently that more Americans are killed by fists and feet every year than with firearms? Allowing someone you don’t know to give you a beat-down just so you can claim damages in a lawsuit is a poor decision on many levels, including possible death, long and expensive and time-consuming court procedures, and most importantly, even if you win the suit, what are the odds he can or will actually pay? I seem to recall that O.J. Simpson never paid when he lost his civil wrongful death case.

      • Either way it doesn’t really matter. Same reason these BLM losers are idiots. Hands and feet can kill much easier than people think. Movies have lead people to believe taking a punch to the face is easily brushed off. In reality, one solid blow to your temple with a closed fist can kill you. And no, the puncher doesn’t have to be Arnold strong either. An average adult male has enough strength to do it. Anyone who’s ever taken a blow to the head knows what I’m talking about.

        • Even if a blow to your head doesn’t kill you, it can leave your brains scrambled. If you don’t believe me, read some of the responses to this thread (respondent excepted, of course).

        • I have a 3″ long plate in my neck and gun that says no one hits me in the head, ever. A solid punch anywhere above my neck is easily fatal.

  3. “… the gun’s coming out and I’m going to put it to his (expletive) head.”

    Dumbasses gonna dumbass. Guy likely wouldn’t have had as much of a problem if he had kept stupid lines like this out of his mouth in the first place.

  4. Doyle and Gonzales were into Testosterone mode, males strutting in front of their women and families. Gonzales was foolish to follow Doyle,Doyle within his right to defend. The entire matter could have been avoided but Testosterone and small strutting egos take on lives of their own. Sad, stupid, costly.

  5. I went to a police station in Indianapolis when someone was following me back in the mid ’90s. It was quite late and they looked open. Not sure though. I feared that the three hoodlum looking fellows following me and my wife were armed. I not sure that a firehouse would have deterred them. It would have only taken a few seconds to have an exchange of fire – at least for me, I had only five rounds.

      • 61 now. Funny thing was I never used to worry about having just a J frame with no reloads. Then a P7M8 with 2 extra 8 rnd mags seemed fine for several years. I only have so many now because like you I carry a Five SeveN and carrying that many is so easy that you might as well.

        • Recently aquired a FsN and a holster, so this weekend will be the first actual carry trip with it. Looking forward to it.

        • If you haven’t already, I recommend finding images or videos of gel tests for any ammo you intend to carry. The gel tests of common 5.7 factory loads that I have seen are not confidence inspiring. I only carry Elite T6Bs so far but am transitioning to my home rolled which does perhaps a little less damage but does it deeper and cheaper.

    • +1 ActionPhysicalMan.

      I’ve been tailed (or thought I was) twice. The first time, I made several turns just to see if I was imagining things. I wasn’t, but I was able to ditch my tail. The second time, I went directly to a police station.

      • When being followed, with no police around and when it’s safe, the E-Brake U-turn is highly effective at throwing off a tail.

        • …if you know how to do one. As in, you’ve practiced it in the vehicle you’re in (or one very much like it) and know what to expect and what to do. Otherwise you might wind up doing more harm to yourself than good.

        • While I agree that it should be practiced (harsh on your tires on pavement) if you can’t generally pull off an E-brake turn you were obviously never a decent 16 year old.

        • I almost rolled my first car practicing that very maneuver. Scared my youngest brother so bad, he got out and walked home.

  6. —–
    Howard found Robert Eric Doyle, 52, was acting in self-defense… …ordering Gonzales’ wife and two child relatives out of the “victim’s” car at gunpoint.
    —-

    If it was self defense, how was Gonzales referred to as “the victim”? Couldn’t you used “the deceased”? If I feel threatened enough to pull a gun on you and you don’t stop then, why would I expect you to stop once you’ve punched me an appropriate amount?

    Regardless of your interpretation of the events, “backing down” from “an a-hole with a gun” doesn’t make you a “wussy/insert derogatory term”, it just means you’re intelligent enough to realize things have turned deadly. Sue the a-hole, call the cops, whatever… don’t just continue to approach the gunman and expect nothing bad will happen as a result. This idiotic egotistical viewpoint of “I’m not a wuss/I can’t back down/He’s not man enough to shoot me” doesn’t seem to factor in facing someone who’s equally as determined to “prove his manhood”… or defend his family in this case.

    And for Pete’s sake, stop driving like A-holes. Get out of the left lane, leave enough of a gap for people to merge in when possible, and generally realize that “winning” at normal driving probably only saves a few seconds to a few minutes a day while risking both your life, as well as those around you. I’m no saint, and I’m not even saying you can’t speed within safe limits under light traffic, but people get way too self-absorbed with driving to realize all of the delays and danger they create trying to shave a few seconds off their commute.

    • Yup. The only person I know of who is masculine enough to take a bullet is Chuck Norris.

      We have brains for a reason. Use em.

  7. Don’t make rude gestures toward other drivers. It tends to provoke retaliation and lessens your credibility as the victim if you have to defend yourself.

    Try to keep moving. Call 911 to request police assistance. Give descriptions of your vehicle and the bad guy’s. Also your location and direction with updates. The idea is to have the cops catch the guy in the act.

    If you are blocked, you may have to defend yourself. Keep your windows up and your doors locked. That might be enough to deter the bad guy. To get at you, he has to break in. Evidence of that will support your claim of self defense.

    • And always refill your tank at the 1/4 mark instead of waiting for the light to come on. I was in a similar situation a while back and had to stop at the gas station because I would not have made it to the PD (which was my initial plan). Fortunately they drove on as we pulled in after following us honking for several miles. For reference, they had run a red light (red for 10+ seconds that I could see as i approached it) and I did an emergency lane change to avoid the collision. Anyway, keep a few gallons in the tank people.

      • Also, it’s not good for your engine to keep running the tank low. The sediment present in the gas settles to the bottom of the tank. Running it low sucks that into the engine.

  8. Many years ago my brother was riding in a car with his best friend who made the mistake of turning around in the wrong driveway, which set off the homeowner. My brother’s best friend was the son of a cop and had been told if anyone was ever following him to go straight to the main copshop and start blowing the horn at least a block away. Their pursuer turned out to be armed and had mistaken them for someone who had bashed his mailbox twice previously. Fortunately the pursuer didn’t need to be shot, but unfortunately for him he lost his job with the city for his behavior.

  9. Fire station ? Well if it’s a vollunteer one it’s possible nobody is there the majority of the time . I happen to work for a FD in a city with a pretty high crime rate, and sure we all get, walk ups of mugging/ beating victims and the occasion a woman running from an abusive baby daddy .

    But we’re certainly not there all the time,training, building inspections, community meetings and well runs…. You got maybe a 50/50 chance during the day and a little better at night. At night were not opening the door till the whole crew is at the door and a couple of road ragers one with a gun? Um no thanks ….. I’ve been to a large number of shootings, just would prefer that my guys don’t become one of those shot .

    This advice is as bad as the old ” yell fire” because we come faster .

  10. I’m thinking the year of lawyer money is his pennence for saying all that stupid and highly murderous crap to a 911 dispatcher right before he killed a guy.

    Was it self defense? Perhaps. But the whole situation could have easily been de-escalated by either of them if they could have been bothered to project a day in to the future for a few seconds.

    “Hmm, how will my planned actions for the next five minutes make my life look 24 hours from now? Oh! No. No, that’s no good at all. Let’s swing by the cop shop instead.”

    Dude’s lucky as hell he didn’t end up in jail.

  11. Since I became a gun owner and started carrying regularly, I’ve become even less confrontational than I was previously. When driving, this translates as always making sure to leave plenty of room ahead of me, keeping an eye out for other drivers, making sure to let people merge, etc.

    What people do in traffic just really doesn’t matter to me very much any more. I can’t control what they’re going to do, only what I can do. So I relax, and just drive.

    • Yup, drive carefully and forgivingly. Listen to soothing music without commercials; it’s much harder to get road rage when listening to Satie or Debussy.

  12. Along the lines of leaving following room, when stopped at an intersection make sure you leave enough room between you and the car in front to go around it without backing up. About a month ago I pulled up to a light (second in line) behind the car I had been following. When the light turned green the car in front of me did not move. It sat there long enough for my son (13) to have the typical, “What is he doing dad? Not sure, probably texting.” conversation before I gave two quick taps on the horn. The guys (late 50s or early 60s, slight build) reaction was to get out of his car as the light turned yellow again. Fortunately he stopped about one and a half steps from his door, turned around and got back in his car. I can only assume he expected me to be a teenager instead of looking like the second coming of Thor.

    When I turned to look at my son he was sheet white. In the conversation that followed he was afraid that I was going to shoot the guy. I explained to him that the best way to deal with stupid people doing stupid things in stupid places is to not be there. That I was waiting for him to get to his rear fender then I was going to speed around the right side of the car in the empty turn lane and simply leave him there to be angry alone. It turned out to start a very good conversation with a very real context that he could relate to (an important factor when trying to reason with a teenager). In a busier intersection I would not have had that option but I always try to leave room to escape. The more options we have the better.

    • Excellent advice, and kudos for turning that into a learning experience for the teen. I had two of them, and getting them to process anything without such a graphic model was difficult, at best.

      I remember well a classic statement my oldest son made one day. (He is now fifty years old).

      “MOM! I want to make my own mistakes.” Oh yeah… And he did.

    • I was given the same advice as a rookie cop but for a different reason. My Field Training Officer chided me for not leaving enough room to get around the car in front of me in the event we got an emergency call. I still maintain that distance to this day.

      BTW, most police stations have a desk officer on duty or at least a station clerk there who can summon help. A police station would be preferable to a fire station as a refuge. If you can’t find either, try to find a well-lighted place with a lot of people around.

      • About that…
        Last two cop shops I’ve been in have a secure anteroom. You walk in, the civilian clerk is behind 2″ clear polycarbonate, and the door to the shop itself is locked from the inside. You walk in, there’s only one way out.
        Never – NEVER – get stuck with only one way out.

  13. You write: “Gonzalez got out of his vehicle and approached Doyle…who shot him. Gonzalez died at the scene.”

    That part was contested by Gonzalez’ wife who says he was backing up when he was shot.

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