By Wayne Thomas, staff writer
A Mount Juliet man is being held in the Coffee County Jail after an alleged road rage incident on Interstate 24 that occurred Sunday night, Dec. 29.
Vaughn Robert Cornelia, 20, of Port Kembla Drive, Mount Juliet, is being held under a bond of $13,500 on charges of possession of schedule VI (marijuana), aggravated child abuse, two counts of unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of drug paraphernalia.
According to a report by Manchester Police Officer Tyler Hickerson, John Travis Reed of Manchester reported to police that he was traveling I-24 and blinked his headlights to get Cornelia to move over. He alleges that Cornelia moved over but then began to accelerate and followed him. when Reed exited at mile marker 114, the Mount Juliet man also exited.
Reed claims that while they were at the traffic light at the exit, Cornelia pointed a handgun at the man and his wife and simulated firing three rounds. Reed then got the tag of Cornelia’a vehicle and followed the vehicle when it pulled into the Wendy’s Restaurant in Manchester. Reed told the officer that he sat in the parking lot of the Waffle House until police arrived.
When officers stopped Cornelia he first told them that he had no weapon but later changed his story and would not give permission for officers to search his vehicle.
Cornelia told the officer that he was on his way to Atlanta to meet with his daughter’s mother. He stated that as he was getting off of the interstate that Reed stopped in the far left lane and drove past him. He claimed that Reed approached his vehicle and out of fear he grabbed his 9-millimeter pistol to get the man to “back away.” He said that he was in fear that Reed was “going to harm.”
Since the Mount Juliet man would not give permission for officers to search the vehicle, a Coffee County deputy David Grosh and his K-9 partner were requested to assist the Manchester officers. According to Hickerson’s report, when the K-9 searched the outside of the vehicle it alerted on the vehicle, which gave officers reason to search the 2002 Toyota Camry.
Cornelia told the officers that there was a pistol on the right side back seat and that he had some marijuana in the vehicle.
Authorities located a black Sig Sauer SP 2022 nine-millimeter pistol in a large bag with clothes in the right side back seat floorboard with 13 rounds of ammunition in the magazine. In the trunk of the car the officers allegedly found a green leafy substance (possibly marijuana) inside a jar, one Cigarillo blunt with what appeared to be marijuana and a large bag with what appeared to be marijuana inside a curved canister. The total weight of the marijuana was 35.6 grams. They also found digital scales a box of .380 ammunition, two empty ammunition magazines for a 9-millimeter pistol, a silver plated Cobra .380 handgun with five rounds in the magazine and one round in the chamber. There was also $138 in cash found in the center console area and Cornelia had $1,050 in cash in his pants pocket.
Police allege that Cornelia had his daughter in a baby seat inside the vehicle but she was not fastened down.
Cornelia is to appear in Coffee County General Sessions Court Jan. 7, 2014.
Wayne Thomas may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org