The alleged incident occurred on Tuesday when three vehicles were involved in a collision along the southbound lanes of I-275 on the Howard Frankland Bridge
Former federal prosecutor Patrick Douglas Scruggs is at the center of an alleged road rage incident in Florida that recently shut down parts of a major bridge for nearly three hours.
A statement PEOPLE obtained from Sergeant Steve Gaskins of the Florida Highway Patrol detailed that on Tuesday, at 9:24 a.m., troopers with the FHP responded to a collision involving three vehicles along the southbound lanes of I-275 on the Howard Frankland Bridge.
The incident began when a 35-year-old Tampa man, referred to by authorities as Driver 1, was spotted slumped over in his car. Per the statement, Driver 2, a 40-year-old Tampa man, and his 43-year-old wife pulled over to see if they could assist the seemingly unresponsive individual. NBC News has identified Driver 2 as Ahmed Gahaf.
According to FHP, after Gahaf exited his own vehicle to check on Driver 1, he went back to his car to look for something to break the window in an attempt to help Driver 1, who was slumped over.
“Before this could occur, Driver 1 awoke and drove forward, colliding with Driver 2’s vehicle,” the statement said. “Unable to continue forward, Driver 1 reversed and attempted to drive around Driver 2’s vehicle; rather, Driver 1 collided with Driver 3’s vehicle which was passing the incident.”
Driver 3 was identified in the statement as Patrick Douglas Scruggs, a lawyer, who was 38 at the time of the incident but turned 39 on Thursday. According to his LinkedIn page, Scruggs served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice between Sept. 2012 and April 2023.
The FHP statement added that Scruggs “stopped, exited his vehicle, approached Driver 1, broke out the side window and began to stab Driver 1 multiple times with a pocket knife.”
It was then that Gahaf and his wife intervened in an attempt to stop the attack on Driver 1, however, the statement said that "as the pair approached, Driver 3 diverted his attention and attempted to stab" the couple.
“Both fled before being harmed,” the FHP added.
"It surprised me why he did this," Gahaf told NBC News on Thursday. "He said, 'You with him? You two, you want to kill me?' That's when he came at me with the knife."
According to the FHP statement, a St. Petersburg Police Officer who happened to be driving along the bridge at the time observed the incident and stopped, detaining Scruggs and rendering aid to Driver 1 who “was transported to an area hospital with serious, but non-life threatening injuries.”
"I wanted to help the guy and help the other people, too. It could have been a big accident," Gahaf explained in his interview with NBC News. "It's four lanes, and everyone is speeding 80 mph. There could have been a big accident."
Tuesday’s events didn’t deter Gahaf from vowing to continue helping others in need.
"I'm going to do this every time, no question," he said. "We have to help people when we see something, especially in the middle of the highway. Someone stuck in the middle of the road, he needs our help, no question."
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Authorities added in the statement that Scruggs was booked into Pinellas County Jail and charged with aggravated battery, aggravated assault and burglary of an occupied convenience.
According to court records seen by PEOPLE, the former prosecutor has paid a $65,000 bond and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
"He has no prior criminal history. This is a totally isolated incident," his attorney John Nohlgren said, per NBC News.
"He's got tons of law enforcement and prosecutors who are reaching out and saying, 'This is not the Patrick Scruggs we know; something must have happened.' That's been the reaction so far. The portrayal that he's some guy who jumps out and starts stabbing a person is either not what happened but is also not [who] my client [is], not his personality,' Nohlgren added.
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