Former Bears receiver accused of shooting man

March 10, 1994|By Nora Lopez | Nora Lopez,Dallas Morning News

DALLAS -- A former NFL player shot another motorist yesterday morning during a rush-hour confrontation on LBJ Freeway in Dallas, then abandoned his car and hitched a ride to the airport, Dallas police said.

James Scott, a wide receiver with the Chicago Bears in the late 1970s and early '80s, was arrested at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport while waiting for a flight to San Francisco.

Police said Scott feuded with Jerry Durand, who was driving alongside him, then fired two shots at his car. Durand then smashed into Scott's car whether accidentally or deliberately wasn't clear, police said.

As police led him to jail downtown, Scott said he fired at Durand because he feared for his life.

"He was carrying on, running out in front of me and doing all kinds of movements in the car and giving me the finger," said Scott, a native of Longview, Texas, who lives in Dallas. "Then he tried to stop and jam on his brakes in front of me. When I tried to go around him, that's when he hit me."

Late yesterday, Durand, 42, was in serious condition at Parkland Memorial Hospital, where he underwent surgery for a gunshot wound in the abdomen. Family members said they were traumatized by the violence and didn't know what to make of it.

"We don't know who started it, but apparently words were exchanged and shots were fired," said Sgt. Jim Chandler, a police spokesman. "One car hit the other, bringing both to a stop. The suspect was then able to convince a motorist to take him to the airport.

"The passer-by simply thought he had been involved in a traffic accident and was going to be late to the airport and was kind-hearted enough to give him a ride."

Scott was being held at the Lew Sterrett Justice Center late Wednesday awaiting formal charges. Police said he will be charged with aggravated assault.

According to a police report, Scott said he was employed as a "professional athlete" by the San Francisco 49ers. A team spokesman said he had played there years ago but no longer did.

Scott was also wanted on a 1991 warrant from Gregg County on cocaine-possession charges. In 1989, officers said they stopped him on a traffic violation near Tyler and found 30 grams of cocaine and a pistol in his car.

The incident stalled traffic for hours while police cleared the accident and tried to sort out details. But police said most passing motorists were unaware of the violence.

One motorist said she saw the conflict from the beginning.

"My perception was that the small red car [Durand's] was going to change into the right lane and didn't see the black car until the last minute and then swerved and didn't do it," said Judy Ott, who was traveling directly behind the two cars.

"The black car then sped up, and I saw the window go down and the gun come out. The person fired twice at the red car, and then the red car swerved back into the right lane and into the black car and hit him."

Ms. Ott said she initially thought the red car, driven by Durand, had intentionally hit Scott's car.

"Now I'm thinking that maybe it was just reflex," she said. Ms. Ott said she kept driving to work, where she called police to report what she had seen.

"When I saw that barrel come out, I backed off," she said. "I just kept on, but I was just shaking. You hear about this happening in Dallas, but not in front of your very eyes."

Police said Scott declined to give a statement. A woman who was traveling with him remained at the scene and was questioned by police.

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