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Law & Crime
Florida man accused of road rage stabbing is a former federal prosecutor who went after Jan. 6 rioters
By Colin Kalmbacher,
Patrick Scruggs appears inset against an image of a 3-car pileup in Florida (images via Florida Highway Patrol).
A Florida man accused of a road rage stabbing earlier this week is also an attorney – and a former government lawyer who had gone after people accused in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Patrick Douglas Scruggs, 38, stands accused of one count each of aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, and armed burglary, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.
He previously worked for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida in Tampa. As a federal prosecutor, Scruggs took part in some of the Jan. 6 prosecutions – including being the attorney of record for the government’s initial case against Adam Johnson , the Florida man who made waves by jauntily carrying and posing with Nancy Pelosi’s lectern after joining hundreds of Donald Trump supporters in breaching the Capitol.
The underlying incident occurred Sept. 26 on the 4.8-mile-long, fixed-link W. Howard Frankland Bridge – part of Florida Interstate 275 spanning Old Tampa Bay, connecting St. Petersburg with Tampa – during the waning minutes of the morning rush hour when a car stopped on the highway for what state troopers termed an “unknown reason.”
The driver of that first car was identified as a 35-year-old man by the Florida Highway Patrol in a press release. His sedan had blocked some of the southbound lanes and the driver was visibly slumped over.
Upon noticing the distressed fellow motorist, a couple from Tampa – identified as a 40-year-old man and his 43-year-old wife – stopped just in front of the sedan and got out of their car to try and render aid to the man behind the wheel because of “the hazard,” the FHP says.
The driver of the second car was unable to get inside, so he went to find something to break the first car’s window and help the driver out, according to law enforcement. Just as that was about about to happen, however, the first driver woke up and jammed on the gas pedal – careening into the helpful couple’s car. Then, the driver tried to maneuver around the car he had just hit by backing up.
That’s when he reversed into Scruggs’ car, the FHP says.
The lawyer, who had been driving by the incident at the time his car was struck, got out of his vehicle, according to law enforcement. Then he allegedly managed what the second driver could not – walking over and breaking the 35-year-old man’s window. After getting through, the defendant pulled out a “pocket knife” and stabbed the 35-year-old over and over, according to troopers.
“The victim was in fear of his life,” a trooper wrote in a criminal complaint provided to Law&Crime.
The couple from the second car tried to intervene and stop the stabbing, but Scruggs turned around and allegedly tried to stab them, too. They “both fled before being harmed,” according to the FHP.
A passing member of the St. Petersburg Police Department saw the scene unfolding and stopped just in time — taking Scruggs into custody, calling for backup, and getting the victim to a nearby hospital where he was treated for “serious, but non-life threatening injuries.”
The melee caused the bridge to be closed for roughly three hours.
Scruggs was assessed a $65,000 bond and released later the same morning of his arrest, records show. On Wednesday, the defendant’s attorney, John Nohlgren, entered a not guilty plea on his behalf.
“There is much more to this incident than what is being reported and we are diligently working to bring to light the full facts of what occurred,” the defense attorney told the Tampa Bay Times . “We urge that the public keep an open mind and withhold from making judgments. We will bring forth all of the facts and make them known to the authorities in the proper forum.”
Scruggs was an assistant U.S. attorney from September 2012 through April of this year. He served as an attorney in over 500 cases in the Middle District of Florida. In May, he went to work for the national law firm of Barnes & Thornburg LLP.
“He is no longer employed with Barnes & Thornburg,” a representative of the Indianapolis-based company told Law&Crime.