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Army vet surrenders after shooting 9 times at woman’s SUV

Joe Harvey mug shot. (Muscogee County Jail/Released)
June 25, 2020

An Army vet has turned himself in after he admitted to emptying a 9mm pistol at a woman’s SUV during a heated moment in a parking lot.

Joe Harvey, 52, fired at least nine times at a woman in a Dick’s Sporting Good’s parking lot at around 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, police said. No one was injured, according to the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Harvey’s attorney, Ralston Jarrett, says he suffers from a severe case of PTSD after serving in the Army for 32 years.

Jarrett added that Harvey, who doesn’t have any felonies on his record, will likely qualify to have his cased moved to the Veterans Court, which deals with mental health issues resulting from military service. Harvey, who reportedly admitted to shooting the woman’s SUV, could surrender all his firearms if he is released from custody.

Officer Michael Clements testified at a preliminary hearing on Friday in Columbus Recorder’s Court that Harvey and the woman, 39-year-old Velisha Hearlson, were both going east when she moved into Harvey’s lane. Harvey believed Hearlson, whose 15-year-old daughter was in the car, cut him off.

He followed them into the store’s parking lot. They both exchanged insults and then from about 10-15 feet away in the parking lot, Harvey brandished his firearm and shot at the SUV. Harvey then placed his pistol on the dashboard and called 911 to turn himself in.

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Harvey has been charged with two counts each of aggravated assault and of using a gun to commit a crime, and with reckless conduct and reckless driving.

“He’s seen some things as a vet, as many have,” Jarrett said, who added that Harvey retired in 2018 after serving in Desert Storm in combat operations and has “severe PTSD.”

Harvey’s PTSD treatment had been interrupted by the global COVID-19 pandemic and is working to get a service dog, according to Jarrett.

However, Hearlson, did not think Harvey’s PTSD was a good enough excuse to justify his actions, she said outside the court with her daughter.

“I think he doesn’t need to be on the road, and he definitely don’t need to own a gun,” she said, adding that she saw Harvey make eye contact with her daughter as the bullets hit their car.

The first five bullets hit the hood of Harvey’s Chevrolet Silverado while the next four hit the hood of Hearlson’s Chevrolet Trailblazer, officers said.

“My child might have PTSD now from what he done to her,” Hearlson said.

Judge Julius Hunter agreed with prosecutor Nicholas Hud’s request to hold Harvey without bond.

“The concern of the court is, going forward, what is somebody else ticks your client off?” Hunter asked Jarrett. “How is his response going to be? … You go out there and drive today, somebody may very well pull in front of you or pull out, and you have to avoid them, but you just can’t go follow them and you can’t go pulling a gun and shooting.”