Hellam man arrested for allegedly waving gun during road rage incident

HELLAM TOWNSHIP — A 22-year-old Hellam man is facing firearms and assault charges stemming from a road rage incident Sunday night.

Police say Austin Matthew Kling waved a handgun at other drivers while driving on Route 30 West in the area of Kreutz Creek Road. He is being charged with  firearms not be carried without a license, simple assault — attempt by menace, recklessly endangering another person, disorderly conduct and careless driving, according to court documents.

According to a police affidavit, officers responded to a call of a man waving a handgun shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday. Police interviewed the man who made the call, Walter Ziffer, and his 14-year-old son.

Ziffer told police that while driving on Route 30 with members of a car club, he and two other vehicles had been passed in the right lane by a maroon Chevrolet Suburban. The Suburban pulled in front of the lead car, slammed on the brakes, and then waved his middle finger at the cars behind him. Ziffer told police the Suburban then repeated the same action.

As Ziffer and the other vehicles passed the Suburban near the Hellam exit, Ziffer’s son took a photo of the Suburban’s license plate. They observed the Suburban’s driver waving a firearm toward the ceiling of his vehicle and using it to adjust his sunglasses. The Suburban took the next exit at Kreutz Creek Road.

Police searched the area and found a Suburban matching the vehicle’s description at a Rutter’s market on the 700 block of West Market Street. The registration plate matched the photo taken by Ziffer’s son, and the driver matched the suspect’s description. Police identified the man as Kling.

During an interview with police, Kling said he had an air gun under the car’s front seat. A search of the vehicle produced that gun, plus a Glock 27 .40 caliber pistol in the car’s center console.

Kling did not have a valid pistol permit, police said.

The investigation is still ongoing, according to police.