A traffic altercation on a Plymouth highway one night this week "escalated quickly" until one driver fatally shot the other over something as minor as a lane change, the police chief said Friday.
Also Friday, police released further video evidence from traffic cameras in hopes of finding whoever shot Jay Boughton in the head Tuesday night as he and his 15-year-old son were southbound on Hwy. 169 just south of Rockford Road.
A series of newly released video clips shows the shooter's vehicle heading west on Interstate 694 near Snelling Av. in Arden Hills before exiting onto southbound Hwy. 169 and then pulling up on the left and briefly pacing Boughton's vehicle before the shooting about 10 p.m. Police said they're still piecing together the SUV's route afterward.
"We don't have a precise location" of where the two vehicles converged, Plymouth Police Chief Erik Fadden said during a news briefing attended by family members and friends of Boughton, "but we do believe that this was a very short event in which these two vehicles crossed paths.
"We have no reason to believe that they were following each other or driving next to each other for even more than a few seconds, which in my humble opinion, makes this even more senseless."
Fadden then went on to give the most detailed account yet of the side-by-side encounter that was exceptionally brief yet deadly for Boughton, who was heading to his home in Crystal with his son after coaching the teen's youth baseball game.
"The suspect vehicle, from the best that we can tell, came up beside them quickly and there was some sort of — when I say traffic altercation — you know, lane changing use, something very minor," he said. "This wasn't a back and forth, and it escalated quickly, and we don't know why right now. … It was simply a senseless act by someone that we will find."
Police have yet to better specify their description of the suspect vehicle, despite the latest video evidence and the release earlier in the week of several traffic surveillance photos. They believe it is a light-colored SUV, possibly a late-model Ford Expedition, Chevrolet Tahoe, Suburban or similar model. Police added that the SUV reportedly has damage to the rear bumper on the driver's side.
Fadden said "it was raining, and the camera lenses are full of rain droplets." It was also dark outside.
Stephen Robinson, Boughton's brother-in-law who was backed by other family members and friends at the police briefing, said, "Jay Boughton was coming home from coaching his son's baseball game on Tuesday night and he was shot, murdered, executed, for doing something most of us do every day, taking your child to an athletic event. ... So in that sense, we've all been there. And in a sense, we are all Jay, right?"
Speaking without notes, Robinson steeled himself and continued: "This is the world we live in, people. Is this the world we want to pass to our children? Is it? Is it?"
Robinson said that "what the family needs right now, first and foremost, is your prayers. We ask for those. Privacy, we could use that. We need some time to begin the healing process. ... And space, we could use the space to breathe. That's hard to do right now as well."
The chief also made a plea Friday for any privately collected video that may have been recorded that night along the relevant stretches of I-694 and Hwy. 169.
"I know many of us have personal dashboard cameras in their vehicles. Many commercial trucking companies utilize them," he said. "I want to ask anyone or any business that may have a dash camera installed in their vehicle [and] may have been in the area of I-694 or Hwy. 169 on Tuesday night between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. to take a few minutes to review that footage, and hopefully you may find something that could help us with this investigation."
The plea came a few hours after police announced a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in connection with Boughton's death. In the meantime, his friends and family anxiously wait for the driver to be caught.
Anyone with information about the shooting is encouraged to contact CrimeStoppers of Minnesota at 1-800-222-8477. Tips can also be submitted at crimestoppersmn.org. Tips can be submitted anonymously.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482