Punta Gorda man arrested, accused of attacking woman and 2 girls in road rage incident

A man was arrested by the Cape Coral Police Department after a violent road rage incident Wednesday.

According to CCPD press release, the incident happened near the 1100 block of Del Prado Boulevard S when both vehicles stopped in a parking lot.

Police say Christopher Nelson Velez, 40, of Punta Gorda, battered and attempted to pull three victims, a young woman and two girls, from their vehicle, leaving two with minor injuries. A mother confirmed another girl was in the car, bringing the victims to four total. But the mother says her daughters were not injured during the encounter.

After investigating the incident, police say Velez was driving recklessly near the victim’s car while driving eastbound on Viscaya Parkway. Both drivers exchanged words and gave each other the finger. As they continued eastbound, Velez threw a protein shaker cup and hit the 12-year-old girl in the front passenger seat in the right eye. Both vehicles turned right from Viscaya Parkway onto Del Prado Boulevard to travel southbound. Velez eventually cut the victim off, forcing her to turn into the Shoot Center parking lot.

Velez exited his van and approached the victim’s car. According to police, he reached into the open window and tried to pull the woman out but was unsuccessful. Velez attempted to remove one of the girls from the left rear window. In doing so, the passenger’s tube top came off. The driver got out to stop Velez and was dragged by her shirt. The girls got out of the vehicle and started to hit Velez, at which point he got into his van and left.

Around 4:30 pm Wednesday, Velez and his van were found at the 7-Eleven located at 1526 Chiquita Blvd. S. Based on the evidence, witness statements, and victim identification, Velez, was arrested. He now faces charges of throwing a deadly missile, two counts of burglary with battery, and three counts of battery.

Two of the victims were taken to the hospital because of their injuries. The mother of a 14-year-old girl involved told us her daughter is traumatized after the attack. She says the girls were on their way to school but never made it there because of the attack.

“He was accelerating at a pretty quick pace,” said Troy Eckenrode, who witnessed the road rage. “But what caught my eye, my attention, was the back door was open on the van as he’s pulling away.”

Eckenrode, an employee at Shoot Center, was working when the attack happened. He only saw the van speeding away but soon noticed the girls who had been attacked.

“One of them said they got hit in the face by the gentleman and that they were attacked and beat up, and they were just very emotional,” Eckenrode said.

Eckenrode said there were shoes, hats and water bottles on the ground where the girls were standing. It wasn’t until he watched the surveillance video that he realized what happened.

“As soon as the van stopped, the door was even open before the van stopped, and the guy’s already out of his vehicle,” Eckenrode said. “And then just kind of seeing what happened with them and hearing their side of the story, it was kind of an indicator, yeah, definitely road rage.”

Velez remains in the Lee County Jail.

Velez’s white van found at a 7-Eleven on Chiquita Boulevard and Trafalgar Parkway in Cape Coral, where he was arrested Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Credit: Shared with WINK News.
Credit: Cape Coral Police Department.
Reporter:Justin Kase
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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