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December 19, 2019

Route 29 road rage driver gets three months in jail

Damian Patrick Busicchia fired his handgun twice from the driver’s seat of an AudiA6.
I don’t like it. It’s not in character with me.
— Damian P. Busicchia
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
A Jeffersonton man will spend three months in jail for firing two gunshots from his car at a van near New Baltimore in June.

Damian Patrick Busicchia pleaded guilty Oct. 23 in Fauquier County Circuit Court to one felony count of firing a weapon from a vehicle — in exchange for dismissal of an identical gun charge and a felony hit-and-run count.

After a 35-minute hearing Wednesday afternoon in circuit court, Judge James E. Plowman sentenced Mr. Busicchia to seven years in prison, suspending all but three months.

The gun crime conviction carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. If convicted on all three felony counts, Mr. Busicchia could have faced up to 30 years behind bars.

The road rage incident occurred at about 3:10 p.m. Wednesday, June 5, in the southbound lane of Route 29 near the Snow Hill subdivision.

Driving a black Audi A6, Mr. Busicchia cut off the driver of a van, according to investigators

The van driver gave him the finger. Mr. Busicchia, 39, then lowered his driver-side window and fired two shots, according to investigators. The bullets didn’t strike the van or other nearby vehicles.

The van driver followed Mr. Busicchia, who jammed on his brakes. That produced a crash involving the van, Mr. Busicchia’s vehicle and a box truck.

Mr. Busicchia left the scene of the accident. About 30 minutes later, Culpeper sheriff’s deputies spotted and stopped him on Springs Road near Jeffersonton.

Testifying Wednesday in circuit court for 15 minutes, Mr. Busicchia blamed his behavior on post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by military experiences in Iraq. Beginning in 2003, he served about 13 months in the country.

His exposure to mortar fire, improvised explosive devices and sniper attacks “was pretty much every day,” Mr. Busicchia said.

As a result, “I find it hard to be on the road,” he told the court. “A lot of things remind me of being Iraq.”

Aiming at the Route 29 median, Mr. Busicchia insisted that he didn’t fire his Ruger 9 mm semi-automatic pistol to injure anyone. Instead, he considered it a “warning shot.”

Mr. Busicchia apologized to the court for his actions.

“I don’t like it,” he said. “It’s not in character with me.”

But, Mr. Busicchia’s poor driving record indicates a pattern of behavior that long ago should have been addressed, Senior Commonwealth’s Attorney Charles K. Peters told the judge.

His record includes a driving-under-the-influence, two speeding and four reckless driving offenses, Mr. Peters said. One of the reckless driving infractions included speeding through a construction zone.

The shooting incident took place on one of Fauquier’s busiest highways when school buses take students home and commuter traffic begins to build, the prosecutor noted. Under the circumstances, firing a gun from a vehicle could have been far worse, Mr. Peters told the court.

Though sympathetic to what Mr. Busicchia endured in Iraq, the prosecutor urged the judge to give him more than the high-end jail time reflected in a pre-sentencing report based on state guidelines. The report indicated a sentence of one day to six months.

Deputy Public Defender Ryan D. Ruzic argued that his client should serve no time.

Had Mr. Busicchia received proper medical care sooner, “I truly believe this incident was avoidable,” Mr. Ruzinc said.

The Veterans Administration now provides him psychological counseling and he takes medication to help regulate his emotions, Mr. Busicchia explained.

While those efforts “don’t excuse” his client’s actions, putting Mr. Busicchia behind bars would interfere with his recovery, the defense lawyer said.

“I don’t think incarcerating Mr. Busicchia will add anything,” Mr. Ruzic said.

But, Judge Plowman questioned whether PSTD caused Mr. Busicchia’s behavior.

Until the road range episode, Mr. Busicchia worked for WebMD in Manassas. For a year, he used Route 29 to make the one-hour commute between his Jeffersonton home and the office.

“I rarely see PSTD manifest itself with violent behavior,” Judge Plowman said.

Road rage activity occurs frequently on the region’s highways, the judge said.

“It’s a daily thing we have to deal with,” Judge Plowman said.

As such, “it seems to me your PTSD would be triggered daily,” he added.

Judge Plowman suggested Mr. Busicchia might have fired his gun because of “frustration and anger” and not necessarily battlefield trauma.

After he gets out of jail, Mr. Busicchia will begin five years of court-ordered probation that will require him to receive mental health, substance abuse and anger-management treatment.

Contact Don Del Rosso at Don@FauquierNow.com or 540-270-0300.
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DonkeyFarmer · December 19, 2019 at 11:18 pm
Did this guy at least have his guns taken away?
Bonnie C. · December 19, 2019 at 6:57 pm
And when he gets out in 90 days & intentionally murders or causes someone's death on the road, it will be interesting to see all these sympathetic do-gooders backpedal.
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