FRANKFORT — William Scott Miller was supposed to arrive at Louisville airport Tuesday afternoon and head home to Frankfort, where he'd spend Christmas with his wife of about five years, their young daughter and his stepson.
But Miller, 42, was shot and killed Monday night during apparently random shootings on Dallas-area roads, authorities say. He had just unloaded a shipment and was going to park his truck in Texas and then fly home.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
A Texas man was also killed in the shootings, and a third motorist was injured.
The suspect in at least one of the shootings was identified as Brian Smith, 37, a former Utah state trooper wanted on burglary and robbery warrants. Smith was critically injured when he shot himself during a standoff with police, authorities said.
In Frankfort, Miller's wife, Shannon, said, "We'd been trying to get him off the road for a while now. He was gone too much. We didn't see him enough."
Her son, Jordan Riley, 14, nestled close to her as she sat on the family room sofa, surrounded by neatly wrapped presents in glistening wrapping paper and a tree decorated with baby pictures.
Jordan occasionally reached around to hug his mother, who was surrounded by family Tuesday as she wept.
The shootings, which happened within minutes of each other, started about 5:45 p.m. in a suburb of Dallas when a pickup truck pulled alongside a small Nissan stopped at a red light and the pickup's driver began shooting, Garland police spokesman Joe Harn told The Associated Press in Dallas. The Nissan's driver, Jorge Lopez, 20, of Rowlett, was killed.
Witnesses told police the pickup then drove off toward Interstate 635 in Dallas, where shots were fired at an 18-wheeler driven by Kenneth Black Harly. He was not injured, the AP reported.
Then the gunman continued west on the highway and shot into the United Van Lines rig that Miller was driving.
Dallas police Lt. Craig Miller told the AP that Miller was a hero.
"Despite being mortally wounded, he was able to control his rig to the point where other drivers weren't injured," Miller said.
An independent contractor, Miller had worked exclusively with Vincent Fister Inc. for about a year and a half, said Dennis Tolson, Vincent Fister's president and general manager in Lexington.
"He was a fine man," Tolson said. "He was a hardworking fellow who was trying to sustain his family. His customers loved him. Just a quality individual."
After Miller was shot, police said, the shooter drove another half-mile on the interstate and fired at another semi-trailer. The driver, Gary Roberts, 46, was injured by debris and glass but not struck by any bullets, Bedford Wilhite, who works with Roberts at Dugan Truck Line, told reporters.
Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said his department has not been able to make a definitive connection between Smith and the killing of Lopez, but he acknowledged that Smith fit the description of the highway shooter: a balding, 40ish white man.
"We're testing the bullets found in his vehicle with the other shootings," Harn told reporters. "It's just part of our investigation because of how close in time the events happened to each other."
Miller said he thinks the suspect was angry and there was no pattern in selecting the victims.
"It's just absolutely stunning to me that something like this would happen," Wilhite told The Associated Press. "This is our way of surviving in this country — truckers hauling goods up and down the highways. Why would someone want to take potshots like this at our drivers?"
In Frankfort, Miller's family struggled with that same question.
Shannon Miller had planned to pick up her husband about 12:50 p.m. Tuesday at Louisville airport. He would leave again on Sunday.
She said she had rarely seen her husband, whom they referred to as Scott, since he started driving the truck about two years ago. He was home with his wife, stepson and 5-year-old daughter, Daliah, maybe one day a month.
He was never home more than two or three days at a time, Shannon Miller said. He was barely home for Thanksgiving.
"He was determined to be a good provider and take care of us," she said.
There was also little time for Scott Miller to do the things he loved — hunting and fishing on a farm in Franklin County, playing poker, flipping channels on his big-screen TV, and riding his 1999 Softail Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
"He always said that was the best therapy," his wife said.
Spurlin Funeral Home in Lancaster, where Scott Miller grew up and still has relatives, is handling arrangements, which were incomplete Tuesday.