OCONEE COUNTY, S.C. — A northern Georgia family's night at Monster Jam in Greenville, South Carolina turned into nightmare on Sunday as they were driving back to their home in Stephens County, Georgia.
Branden Stevanus, his wife Heather and their 3 and 6-year-old children were heading down I-85 southbound as their good friends were following behind them. The two families had just enjoyed a fun night of watching monster trucks at the Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville.
It was Dillon Long's wife and kids who were following behind the Stevanus'.
"This BMW came up behind Branden at a pretty decent rate of speed. Branden was getting over and that car was moving at such a high rate of speed that the car move moved over with him. The BMW, ended up, for whatever reason, deciding to go off the road and then came back around Branden and just as simple as that...the car came back around, kind of slowed back down and opened fire," explained Long.
Long said Branden noticed a green laser pointing in their car just seconds before the shooting. He also said Branden locked eyes with the driver just before their car was riddled with bullets.
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina said the actual shooting happened on I-85 southbound between mile markers 1 and 2 (Highway 11 and Highway 59) on Sunday night around 5:30 p.m.
Long said the driver of the BMW fired multiple shots into the Stevanus' vehicle; which one of the bullets hit Heather in the back of the head. He said Branden immediately slammed on the breaks and pulled the car over off the interstate.
He said the Stevanus' youngest child, along with Branden, had glass shrapnel in their eyes and face from the windows shattering during the shooting.
He pointed out while Heather's injuries are severe, this could have been even worse.
"It could have been much, much worse. The bullet holes in the side of the back part of their vehicle missed the kids by not even an inch," explained Long.
While this was a horrific experience for all of them, Long pointed out at how the Stevanus' 6-year-old son really stepped up to help save his mom's life.
"The little man was was on the phone with dispatch. He (Branden) was coaching, coaching his son through the dispatch, through getting everybody in route," explained Long.
The interstate was closed for several hours as multiple agencies assisted the sheriff's office. Georgia State Patrol helped in the effort to track down the SUV on the Georgia side but was unable to locate it as of late Sunday night.
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office said, "based upon further investigation, investigators believe the suspect vehicle is a dark in color, either black or navy blue, BMW SUV X-5 or X-6, with the model year being around 2017."
Investigators believe the SUV was traveling towards Georgia after the shooting occurred.
Anyone who has information regarding this shooting incident is asked to contact CrimeStoppers.
Long and his wife have set up several ways to financially support their friends. He said Heather has a long road to recovery.
An update was given on Heather's condition on Tuesday night.
"Heather is still critical but stable, her CT scan this morning showed no change from the day before which is good, the swelling hasn’t improved yet but it has not gotten worse which was their main concern.
The biggest thing now is just giving her brain and body time to heal and keep trying the breathing trials when she’s able to tolerate them."