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Self-defense cited in highway shooting


Monday, August 21, 2000

GASTONIA -- A Charlotte man said he acted in self-defense when he shot a motorcycle rider who chased him down U.S.321 in Gastonia on Saturday afternoon.

Dennis Warden said he tried to get away, but the man approached his truck when it stopped at a light at the intersection of Rankin Lake Road.

"He was all right until he opened my truck door to jerk me out," said Warden, 63. "That's when I shot him."

The injured man, Dennis Gantt, was in the hospital Sunday and unavailable for comment. His family declined comment.

Gantt, whose age and address weren't available, suffered a chest wound from a .22-caliber handgun. He was listed in good condition late Sunday at Gaston Memorial Hospital.

No charges had been filed Sunday, and authorities said they were turning over the case to Gaston District Attorney Mike Lands.

Warden said he was headed home after a day of playing golf at Briarcreek Golf Club near High Shoals, where he is a member.

Coming down the ramp at the Hardin Road exit onto U.S.321, Warden said, he spotted several motorcycle riders headed in the same direction.

"I passed them on the right," he said. "I think that's what ticked them off. I put a CD in my player and was opening a cigar when all of a sudden two riders were beside me shaking their fists and hollering for me to pull over."

For about 9 miles "I ran for my life," Warden said. "One pulled in front of me and tried to stop me. He hit me twice."

Warden said he sometimes ran up to 100mph.

"I was trying to get to the police station," he said.

When Warden stopped at the traffic signal, he said, a rider got off his motorcycle, approached his truck and threatened him.

"I shot in self defense," Warden said. "I'm hate it happened. I'm not a vigilante. "

Reach Joe DePriest at (704) 868-7745 or

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