Trucker Says Racial Slur and Threats Led to Truck Stop Stabbing Over Parking Space
Rio Rico, AZ – A South Carolina trucker has been sentenced to four years probation after an April 2018 altercation at a Pilot Travel Center in Arizona led to the stabbing of another truck driver.
Dereck Johnson, 37, of Orangeburg, SC, was facing up to 2.5 years in prison after he admitted to stabbing 33-year-old Ahmet Gumoskaya from Pennsylvania during a heated argument that began over a parking spot.
Johnson and Gumoskaya both shared their sides of the story in front of Arizona Superior Court Judge Thomas Fink, before Fink passed down a sentence for Johnson on October 9.
Authorities said the incident occurred around 3 p.m. on April 23, 2018 at a Pilot in Rio Rico.
With the help of an English-Turkish interpreter, Gumoskaya told the court Johnson had stolen his parking spot after waiting for that particular spot for some time.
Tensions escalated when, Gumoskaya said, he got out of his semi-truck to confront Johnson at his truck.
“I was telling him, ‘I’m going to be parking there… if you could wait until I move it there, if you could be patient.’ Then he (Johnson) told me that it was his parking spot,” Gumoskaya said.
Gumoskaya testified he then walked away concerned after he noticed Johnson was seemingly searching for a “metal object” inside his truck.
However, Johnson’s defense lawyer, Gary Ford Spector, presented documentation from a witness who said Gumoskaya reacted much more violently, stating that he “opened (Johnson’s) driver door and started yelling at (him),” adding that Gumoskaya appeared to be “extremely pissed off.”
Surveillance video from inside the truck stop showed Gumoskaya pursuing a physical and verbal argument with Johnson, even “poking” Johnson in the chest after Johnson attempted to walk away.
In a letter Johnson wrote to Judge Fink, he asserts Gumoskaya continued to seek him out once inside the truck stop, yelling profanity and insults at him, including: “(N-word), you need to get the (f-word) out of here before I kill your ass!”
Johnson’s attorney added that Johnson was more likely to be triggered by Gumoskaya’s actions due to his post-traumatic stress disorder following his military service overseas in both the U.S. Army and Navy, and the medication he takes as a result.
“At some point, and he shouldn’t have done it… Johnson pulls out his pocketknife and stabs him,” Spector said of his client.
Johnson addressed Judge Fink and told him he never intended to stab the victim, but did so in fear Gumoskaya would “make good” on his threat.
Authorities at the scene the day of the incident said Johnson was waiting at the truck stop as police arrived to take him into custody and did not attempt to flee.
At the end of the sentencing hearing, Judge Fink ordered Johnson to serve four years of supervised probation, which is allowed to be completed in Johnson’s hometown in South Carolina.
“As a condition of probation, (Johnson) is to serve 180 days in the Santa Cruz County Detention Center. The 180 days is suspended, provided that the defendant is compliant to the terms and conditions of probation,” the Judge declared.
Following the sentencing, Gumoskaya’s attorney asked to set a restitution hearing to determine how much Johnson would have to pay the victim for losses incurred as a result of the incident, claiming hospital bills were in excess of $100,000.
“In my opinion, a person who is willing to attack somebody to the point of killing them is a serious menace to society and doesn’t belong. They’re like a grenade that its pin has been pulled already,” Gumoskaya said to Judge Fink.
“However, my primary concern is that I’m entitled to some compensation to bring me to the position that I was in prior to what happened,” Gumoskaya continued.
The date of the restitution hearing was not immediately known.
Transportation Nation Network will continue to keep you updated on developments in this case.