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A man was arrested Wednesday morning after a truck driver says he pointed a gun at him for not allowing him to merge onto Interstate 90.

Cole Aaron Smith, 27, has been charged with assault with weapon, a felony. His bail was set at $10,000 during a Thursday morning appearance in Gallatin County Justice Court.

According to charging documents:

At about 8 a.m. Wednesday, the driver of a semi-truck reported Smith pointed a semiautomatic pistol at him after he thought the truck driver cut him off.

Based on a description the truck driver gave to dispatchers, an officer located Smith. While standing outside Smith’s vehicle, one officer stated seeing a semiautomatic pistol on the passenger side’s floor.

Smith told officers he had difficulty merging onto the interstate because of the semi-truck. Once the truck passed Smith, he told officers he decided he would pass the truck so he could “flip him the bird.”

Smith stated he showed the truck driver the pistol after the truck driver flipped him off. The truck driver then followed Smith.

Asked why he showed the truck driver the gun, Smith told officers, “If you’re going to cause me to go into the other side of road, like, I have this and I’ll shoot your tire out if I want.”

However, Smith quickly told the officer he wouldn’t do that. The officer asked Smith if he wanted the driver of the truck to think he would shoot his tire. Smith stated he wanted the driver to realize he’s “not as tough as I am” and that the driver “can back off and obey the law just as much as anyone else.”

A Bozeman Police Department detective contacted the truck driver who explained that he was not able to change lanes to allow Smith to merge onto the interstate. The truck driver stated Smith pointed a pistol at him while passing. He was afraid he would shoot.

Smith was then arrested and taken to the Gallatin County jail, where he was interviewed again.

Asked his intention of showing the gun, Smith described an online video of a veteran pointing a gun at someone who was bothering him. Smith stated the agitator “backed off.” Smith acknowledged that producing the pistol could be frightening for the other driver.

After receiving a warrant, an officer recovered a pistol from Smith’s vehicle loaded with eight rounds of ammunition and an empty chamber.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at fmonares@dailychronicle.com or 406-582-2630. Follow him on Twitter @TGIFreddy.

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