Truck driver Mike Schiotis told the Tennessean he was shocked when he came upon what he thought was a car accident on Interstate 380 outside Scranton, PA, to discover a man pursuing a woman with a gun. The trucker told the newspaper he said a prayer and pulled over to assist the woman.
“She was shrieking and in fear for her life. I said a quick prayer: ‘God, if you are going to take me, I’m ready, but I’ve got to help out,” Schiotis said. The trucker reported he then jumped out of his cab to find the man allegedly beating the woman just outside his door. “I could hear the sound of the gun hitting her head,” he said.
Schiotis pulled the woman into his rig and drove away, with Elvino Alberto Cagnardi, 64, of East Orange, N.J., in pursuit. The trucker said he called 911 to alert police of his predicament while swerving his rig to keep Cagnardi from pulling alongside the truck and shooting at him.
“I was swerving to keep him from pulling up next to us and shooting at us. My load was only about 6,000 lbs., and I was able to maneuver fairly well,” Schiotis said.
Schiotis used his CB radio to explain his erratic driving to other truckers on the highway and a driver for Dupre Transport pulled alongside Schiotis’s rig and blocked the other lane. Meanwhile, the 911 operator put Schiotis on the phone with a trooper who let him know units were trying to catch up with them, according to the Tennessean report. The trooper advised Schiotis and the Dupre driver to slow down and stop.
“I just kept checking my mirrors until I could see (troopers),” Schiotis said. Police were able to apprehend Cagnardi without incident.
Pennsylvania State Police said Cagnardi had intended to kill the woman and then commit suicide, according to the criminal complaint taken by police. Police did not name the woman involved.
The assault began earlier in the day last Tuesday when Cagnardi confronted the woman at her workplace after she told him she was pregnant with his baby. Cagnadi followed the woman in his car as she drove onto the interstate, hitting his horn, flashing his lights and at one point shooting at her car to get her attention, according to the police report.
Cagnardi approached her vehicle and attempted to shoot her as she attempted to make a U-turn in the road, but the gun jammed, according to the report.
After he was arrested, Cagnardi told police he “knew it was over” and he “just wanted to end it.” He said he had written a suicide note for whoever would find them.
Cagnardi is in jail with bail set at $2 million on charges that include attempted criminal homicide and attempted criminal homicide of a child.
The woman involved was taken to the hospital and treated for head trauma, a broken hand and several cuts to her hands and face.