ROWLEY — Road rage is the likely cause of an altercation Friday night outside a Route 1 business that saw a local man point a loaded handgun at another driver before fleeing the scene in his van, according to local police.
William Matthew Kotowski Jr., 48, was arrested a short time later outside his Bennett Hill home and charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and two counts of improperly storing a handgun.
Following his arrest, Kotowski’s wife, 45-year-old Joanna Kotowski, was issued a summons on charges of assault and battery and disorderly conduct after confronting the alleged victim inside the Tobacco Shack on Route 1.
William Kotowski Jr. was arraigned yesterday in Newburyport District Court and is free on $5,000 cash bail. He is expected back in court on Jan. 4 for a pretrial hearing. As part of his bail conditions, Judge Peter Doyle ordered Kotowski to surrender all firearms, suspended his license to carry firearms, ordered him to surrender his firearms identification card, to stay away and have no contact with the victim and not to enter the Tobacco Shack.
If found guilty of the most serious charge, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, Kotowski could be sentenced to 10 years in state prison or 2 1/2 years in a house of correction and a fine of up to $5,000.
Rowley police Chief Robert Barker said police are still investigating whether there is any connection between the victim and the suspect or the victim and Joanna Kotowski, but at this point the incident appears to be random.
“If both of them had guns, I’m afraid there would have been a shooting,” Barker said, referring to the victim and William Kotowski Jr.
According to the police report of Rowley police Sgt. Stephen W. May, William Kotowski and his wife had just eaten dinner at a Danvers restaurant and were traveling north in separate cars around 6:30 p.m. when the victim drove up behind them while traveling through Topsfield. Kotowski accused the victim of driving too close to his wife’s car and then passing her on the right so that the victim was in between his van and his wife’s car.