Jury: Yorker fired shot during Wilkes-Barre area road rage

James Halpin
The Citizens' Voice

A Strinestown-area man who opened fire on a driver during a case of road rage on Interstate 81 was convicted at trial Wednesday, Oct. 17, of aggravated assault and related charges.

Andrew John Prebich, 51, of Conewago Township, was accused of trying to run another driver off the road before shooting a hole in the side of his pickup in December, The Citizens' Voice newspaper has reported.

After about two hours of deliberations, jurors found Prebich guilty of aggravated assault, making terroristic threats, reckless endangerment, criminal mischief, harassment, following too closely, careless driving and failing to use his low beams.

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Prebich was found not guilty of reckless driving, and prosecutors dropped a count of simple assault against him.

The encounter happened on I-81 southbound near the area of the Shoppes at Montage about 3:15 a.m. Dec. 2.

The victim, Matthew Taylor Willis, reported he had been driving his Chevrolet Silverado in the left lane when a white Cadillac SUV came speeding up behind him, prosecutors said.

Flashed lights: Prebich began flashing his lights and tailgating Willis, who then moved over to let the vehicle pass, prosecutors said.

The Cadillac passed, and Willis merged back into the left lane and began flashing his lights at the other driver, prosecutors said.

Prebich tried to cut off Willis and run him off the road near the Moosic exit, court documents state.

Near the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, Prebich pulled alongside the pickup and waved around a gun, firing a shot that hit the rear driver’s side door of Willis' pickup, prosecutors said. The bullet ended up on the floor of the pickup.

After the gunshot, Willis called 911 and pulled to the side of the highway to wait for police. Troopers from the Hazleton barracks caught Prebich minutes later.

Prebich remains free on $50,000 bail pending sentencing, which is scheduled for Dec. 19, according to court records.