Manatee deputies continue to investigate fatal road rage shooting

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Two drivers, both armed with guns, clashed on the road in Manatee County this weekend.

It was road rage and one family still can't wrap their heads around the death of their loved one, a father of three.

Deputies say he was the aggressor, but they are still trying to piece together what happened.

Zachary Barnett's wife, Coty knew something was wrong when her husband didn't show up to their home in Zolfo Springs.

"I was texting him asking him, 'Are you alright? Do I need to call people and ask if you are OK?' Then, at 9 o' clock I got a knock on the door," she said. 

It was a police officer, letting her know her husband had been killed in what appeared to be a road rage shooting. 

"He was not a violent person. It doesn’t make sense to me," she said. 

Coty said Manatee County deputies told her Zach was driving on Buckeye Road near U.S 301 in Parrish Saturday night around 5 p.m.

Deputies said another driver, who they have not identified, said Zach was driving in and out of his lane and ran the other driver off the road. 

Deputies said Zach pulled over and the unidentified driver circled back. The two exchanged words. 

Coty said deputies told her Zach got out of his vehicle, leaned into the unidentified driver's window, and continued arguing. 

Deputies believe the other driver pulled out a pistol and told Zach to back away. They said Zach pulled out his own gun and the driver fired, killing Zach. 

"If you thought you were in fear of your life, why didn’t you just leave? Why did you pull a gun out and cause him to pull a gun out and take his life?" Coty wondered. 

Manatee deputies are still putting the pieces together

"It really gives us the indication that this is going to be an act of self-defense, but we don’t know until we exhausted all of our investigative needs," said Randy Warren with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office. 

Zach leaves behind three young children and a devastated wife. She's searching for answers and asking anyone who saw anything to come forward. 

"I can’t just let it go. I can’t go the rest of my life thinking that something so senseless happened," she said. 

Once the sheriff's office finishes its investigation, the state attorney will make the final decision on whether or not to pursue charges against the other driver. 

The sheriff's office said Marcy's Law prevents deputies from releasing the name of the unidentified driver.