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Wilder Man Charged With Criminal Threatening After Flashing Handgun

Lebanon — A 25-year-old Wilder man was arrested and charged with criminal threatening Wednesday morning after he allegedly displayed a firearm during a road incident with another motorist, police said.

Nicholas J. Downey was released on $5,000 cash bail and will be arraigned June 30 in Lebanon District Court on a felony charge of criminal threatening with a deadly weapon, according to a news release from Lebanon Police.

Police responded around 7:50 a.m. after a motorist used her cell phone to say a driver in a vehicle with Vermont license plates “had reportedly tailgated her and then displayed a firearm,” the release said.

Police located Downey and recovered a handgun from the vehicle, the release said.

Windsor resident Heather Prebish told the Valley News she was driving to work on Mechanic Street in Lebanon after exiting Interstate 89 when a man in another vehicle reportedly pulled up behind her rear bumper and started tailgating her.

Prebish, a 38-year-old mother of two, said she made a hand gesture “as if to say what are you doing?” then looked in her rear-view mirror again and said the driver had “pulled out a gun and he’s pointing it at me.”

Prebish identified Downey at the scene as the man who had displayed a gun, she said.

“I never expected this to happen at 7:40 in the morning,” Prebish said. “It’s scary. I don’t want this to happen to other people. People should feel safe in this community and not feel threatened on their way to work.”

A message left for Downey late Wednesday afternoon was not immediately returned.

Lebanon Deputy Police Chief Phil Roberts said police were still “working out the details” of what instigated the incident, but said such so-called road rage incidents are “not common” in the Upper Valley.

“We don’t deal with these a lot. It’s concerning — the gun was found unloaded, but if you are the person in the other car, you don’t know that,” Roberts said.

News staff writer John Gregg can be reached at