TAMPA (FOX 13) - Two of the motorcyclists involved in an apparent incident of road rage on the Courtney Campbell Causeway spoke exclusively Thursday with FOX 13 News, hoping to tell their side of the story.
The bikers, who asked to remain anonymous, said they were actually strangers until they met, by chance, at a gas station on the Pinellas County side of the Courtney Campbell -- and decided to ride together across the bridge.
"Not even five minutes into the ride, we're on the Courtney Campbell Bridge and we see this guy [driving a BMW] on the bridge," one of them explained. "As he seen us coming, he took over the dotted lines, he rode over the dotted lines."
The scene after that was caught on camera.
In the video, a red BMW can be seen straddling the line at times. As one of the bikers rides around on the right, he slaps the car.
The motorcyclists said they believe the driver of the car was trying to force them off the road.
"He was then probably about six, seven inches from my rear tire," he said. "I really wasn't trying to speed or cut traffic off, but there was only so much I could do to keep him off my rear tire."
"He was switching in between [lanes], like, probably two inches away from our back tires," added the biker whose helmet-mounted camera recorded the video.
The car eventually catches up to the group of motorcyclists on the bridge and, as all the vehicles approach a traffic light, the driver of the car gets out and exchanges words with the motorcyclists.
"Run me over, dude," he said, as he blocks the motorcycle. "You're manhandling me?" he asks as another rider, who walks up and tries to move him out of the way.
"He proceeded to try and tell them that they were going to call the cops and get him arrested for whatever. Vigilante justice type of stuff," one of the bikers told FOX 13 News.
As they continue to yell at each other, two motorcycle riders are seen punching the driver, who falls to the ground. Moments later in the video, which appears to have been edited, a female passenger in the red BMW gets out with a gun and points it at them.
"We didn't intend for any of that, but when it happened, we stopped the second he hit the ground," said the biker, who was not one of the ones who threw a punch. "It was done and over with. We just wanted to get on our bikes and go, and under the heat of the moment, we didn't know any other way to handle that.
"Was I in fear for my life? No. Did I think I was going to get shot? Yeah," he explained.
A WITNESS COMES FORWARD
While this is all going on at the traffic light, cars along the Courtney Campbell were stopped, despite the light having turned green, and a car's horn can be heard in the video.
The driver of that vehicle, who only gave her first name as "Sandra," also spoke with FOX 13 News.
"I had had a good day," Sandra said. "The day was beautiful and to have it erupt into something like this, it had me very upset."
She said she tried to stop the woman holding the gun from getting out of the car.
"I says, 'Get back in your car! Stay in your car!' I never knew she had a gun until I saw the video," Sandra said, adding she was really concerned when she watched the video. "The way she was shaking erratically, she could have injured other people around her."
Sandra thinks everyone involved can learn a lesson.
"Go back and take a real good look at that situation. Someone could have gotten killed when it could have been easily resolved by just driving away," she said.
POLICE GET INVOLVED
Tampa police said Wednesday they had not received any reports of this incident. On Thursday, however, they said they had found the report.
Police identified the driver as Brian Roberts of Tampa and said he was the one who called 911. Officers were unaware a gun was involved or that there was a recording of the incident.
Detectives began trying to determine whether any laws were broken.
DRIVER HIRES A LAWYER
Reached by phone, Roberts' attorney, John Fitzgibbons, told FOX 13 News, "I am just beginning my investigation, but from everything I have seen so far, my clients are clearly the victims in this incident."
The bikers said they realize they shoulder some of the blame, but still put most of it on Roberts.
"Were we driving a bit fast? I will admit, yeah. We were doing about 75. But for him to swerve at us like that was uncalled for," a biker said, adding he still can't believe this happened. "When I go back and view the tape, it shocks me how quickly it escalated and none of us, none of us wanted it to get that far."