Road Rage Shooting Keeps Man Behind Bars Pending Trial

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David Charles Sundt [Photo courtesy Cochise County Sheriff's Office]

A Huachuca City man who claims he fired several shots at another driver in an act of self-defense following a road rage incident last summer remains in the Cochise County jail in lieu of a $100,000 bond while he awaits the setting of two trial dates.

The Cochise County Attorney’s Office has split the felony charges against David Charles Sundt into two cases, with the main one including multiple counts of aggravated assault and endangerment charges stemming from the Aug. 6, 2021 shooting in Sierra Vista. The second case involves two counts of weapons misconduct by a prohibited possessor.

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A pre-trial conference to set Sundt’s first trial date is scheduled for Feb. 11. In the meantime, Judge Jason Lindstrom of the Cochise County Superior Court recently denied Sundt’s request for a lower bond, rejecting defense arguments that “less onerous” release conditions exist to ensure Sundt, 62, shows up for trial while still protecting the community.

Lindstrom found that while Sundt “does not appear to be a flight risk,” the $100,000 bond was an appropriate amount given Sundt’s “significant” criminal history, his “poor decisions involving weapons,” and his volatility and aggressive behavior.

One item on Sundt’s criminal history is a felony charge in Cochise County for a 2006 armed robbery with a deadly weapon. At the time, a court found Sundt guilty except insane, resulting in a five-year term in the Arizona State Hospital.

In addition, Lindstrom pushed back on suggestions by Cynthia Brubaker, Sundt’s court-appointed defense attorney, that the weapon used in last year’s shooting -a 1861 Colt Navy revolver which fires round black powder balls- was not all that dangerous. (It is unclear whether Sundt possessed an actual antique gun, or a more common recently manufactured replica.)

Sundt’s argument set forth by Brubaker is that the other driver, Henry Lee Guerra, “knocked Mr. Sundt to the ground and ran him over” with a Chevrolet Silverado, prompting Sundt to shoot at Guerra’s truck in self-defense. The defense attorney also argued to Lindstrom Guerra had initiated the conflict by rear ending Sundt’s Chrysler 300 sedan and then leaving the scene.

However, Guerra denied hitting the Chrysler. He told officers he was exiting the parking lot of a local business when another vehicle approached at a high rate of speed. Guerra said the other driver -Sundt- cut off the truck, jumped out of his car, and yelled expletives at Guerra while approaching the truck. At the time, Sundt had a “long pistol” of some type holstered on his hip.

According to court records, Guerra said Sundt unholstered the gun, opened the passenger door of the pickup, and physically assaulted Guerra, who told officers he had his own gun attached under the steering wheel but never touched it.  Guerra was able to drive away for a short distance, but Sundt caught up to him. It was then, Guerra said, that Sundt appeared at the driver’s door with a knife.

To protect himself, Guerra said he put the truck in reverse, causing the door to hit Sundt and knock him to the ground.

Sundt, however, told officers he was “run over” by the Silverado although there were no injuries consistent with that happening, the records show. And he contends it was Guerra who first displayed a gun and became belligerent when Sundt tried to talk to him about hitting the Chrysler. Anything afterward was in self-defense, he said.

The police report notes Sundt’s speech at the scene was slurred and he could not control his balance. A post-incident blood draw revealed his blood alcohol concentration was 0.128, above the legal limit of 0.08.

During a recorded interview at the police station, Sundt said that after his car was rear-ended, he tried to stop the Silverado by blocking it with his vehicle. He also said he tried to get Guerra out of the truck by reaching through the window to unlock the door in hopes of physically forcing him out of the seat.

At that point, Sundt said he used his knife in an effort to cut Guerra’s seatbelt.  The Silverado then moved in reverse.

Both men agree on what happened next – Sundt was struck by the truck and he began shooting. All six rounds were fired, four of which hit the Silverado.

Unfortunately, another driver was put in danger during the incident.

According to court records, a woman driving in the area saw a man shooting in her general direction. She made a hasty sharp turn to avoid the gunfire and collided with a utility pole, causing significantly damage to the pole and her vehicle.

The Cochise County Attorney’s Office initially argued that crime scene photographs showed no evidence of contact between Guerra’s truck and Sundt’s Chrysler. However, Brubaker told the judge she reviewed several body cam videos, which include closeup views of the two vehicles.

“The videos revealed a large dent with big scratch marks” to the rear end of Sundt’s car, the attorney argued. Whether that damage was caused by the Silverado will be an issue for trial.

A search warrant revealed a .380 pistol in the center console of Sundt’s vehicle and another black powder revolver in the rear seat. Both firearms were loaded, according to prosecutor Terisha Driggs.

Lindstrom was also presented information by Driggs about Sundt’s criminal history, which dates back to a 1985 robbery conviction in Maricopa County. Shortly after his seven-year term of probation ended in the 1985 case, Sundt was convicted of weapons misconduct in a 1992 case from Minnesota.  He also had arrests in 1999 and 2000 for disorderly conduct.

In 2005, two arrests in Gila County resulted in convictions and terms of probation for disorderly conduct with a deadly weapon and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Then there was his stay in the Arizona State Hospital in lieu of prison.

And in 2014, Sundt was arrested in Cochise County for disorderly conduct and felony criminal damage. He also had several arrests and misdemeanor convictions for shoplifting and criminal trespass during that time.

Sundt later pleaded guilty to a Class 6 felony which was reduced to a misdemeanor in October 2020 after he completed a lengthy term of supervised probation. During his probation, Sundt had new arrests for shoplifting and DUI.

The judge also heard about two occasions when Sundt’s probation officers found him in possession of “deadly, dangerous, or prohibited weapons.”

In one of the instances, a 2019 home inspection found Sundt had a collapsible baton, ammunition, and tactical knives. A follow-up residential inspection in March 2020 led to another written probation directive after Sundt was found with brass knuckles, a large combat knife commonly used by the Marine Corps, two black powder guns, ammunition, and a cane that can be used as a sword.

Both times, Sundt was issued a written directive by his probation officer to not possess such items in the future.