Loon Lake road rage shooting victim continuing to improve

Published On: Mar 26 2012 06:50:34 PM PDT   Updated On: Mar 27 2012 10:27:14 AM PDT
Josh Pickens road rage shooting victim
SPOKANE, Wash. -

The father of a man shot in a road rage incident near Loon Lake Friday night says his son's condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center is improving.

Josh Pickens, 26, was shot as he drove away from a road rage incident. The bullet severed his carotid artery.

Stevens County Sheriff's deputies arrested 26-year-old Matthew Richmond, whose girlfriend called 911 following the shooting. The sheriff says Richmond admitted to shooting at Pickens' car, but says he was aiming for the tires.

Both men were traveling along Highway 292 near Maple Street when one got cut off by the other. Road rage ensued, leading the two men to a verbal fight. The sheriff says Pickens was trying to get away from the situation, but Richmond would not let him leave by blocking his car in.

Richmond allegedly reached for his handgun in his car and began shooting at Pickens as he finally drove away.

Pickens' dad, Ken Pickens, says his son drove three blocks to the Loon Lake Saloon and Grill, where he told the patrons that he had been shot and needed help. At that point, since his carotid artery had been severed by the bullet, he was starting to bleed out. Someone came to his aid to try and stop the bleeding, while someone else called 911.

Pickens was transported to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he underwent emergency surgery to remove the bullet and replace his damaged artery with another artery taken from his leg. Pickens was in a medically induced coma until Sunday morning, when he suffered a stroke. He again went into surgery and by Sunday night was alert and able to write messages to his family.

“He's pretty amazing actually, he played hockey all his life and played out at Eastern Washington,” Ken said. “He told my daughter today when he touched her face, he said 'you're so beautiful, you're worth living for.”

At this point, Ken says the only question on his son's mind is why? Why would someone use a gun during a verbal fight?

“I'm going to tell you right now, they pulled the trigger on my son, and until you're sitting in my chair, watching what we've gone through in the last couple of days, that was a pretty big hit,” Ken said.

Though guns escalated this fight, Ken isn't against carrying.

“I do want to say something, our family is not mad because people carry guns, because I will tell you that I carry a gun, the law gives us a right to carry a gun to protect ourselves in imminent harm, imminent harm is not when somebody is sitting in a car and somebody else has a gun,” Ken said.

One thing Ken has not been able to get off his mind is the person who came to Pickens' aid when he was bleeding out at the Loon Lake Saloon and Grill.

“We really don't know who the person was that administered the pressure, who called 911, and those details so we're hoping that the person comes forward so we can thank them,” Ken said.

Ken jockeys between anger and tears. Right now, he's most thankful for his son's recovery.

“Every day it's just recovering and healing and watching him develop, you know, it's his strength that going to give us strength,” Ken said.

Richmond, the alleged shooter, made his first court appearance in Stevens County Monday morning. He was brought in on charges of First Degree Assault with a firearm enhancement. The Stevens County Prosecutor has three days to file paperwork to more forward with that charge.

He is being held in the Stevens County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Pickens' sister, Kourtney, is keeping a blog throughout his recovery that can be read at http://kourtpick10.blogspot.com/