Quebec trucker gunned down en route in Pennsylvania

by Mike King

MONTREAL, Que. – The Quebec trucking industry was in mourning last month after popular trucker Neil Martin Tattersall was gunned down in cold blood inside his rig on southbound Interstate 81 in central Pennsylvania.

Tattersall, who founded G.T.X. Auto Transport Inc. in 1997 in the Montreal suburb of St. Laurent, was slain three days before his 55th birthday.

He specialized in hauling expensive vehicles like Mercedes-Benzes and Porsches between Canada and the U.S.

Pennsylvania State troopers discovered his body April 21 morning inside his tractor-trailer unit parked in a pull-off area alongside the highway.

Both the driver’s and passenger’s windows of the late-model Freightliner cab were shattered.

Three hours earlier and less than 16 kms north of the scene, state police stopped a car with a flat tire. They found a veritable arsenal inside the vehicle: eight weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle and four semi-automatic handguns.

Lance Richard Ossman of nearby Tower City, PA, was arrested on the spot. The 36-year-old was arraigned the next day on charges of criminal homicide and related offences.

According to the police report, when investigating officers told Ossman that a truck driver had been shot several times and the evidence matched his guns, the accused told police: “I should just kill myself. I don’t know what I’m thinking.”

Ossman said he shot the trucker for tailgating and flashing his lights at him.

“I shouldn’t have had the gun with me,” Ossman added in a police affidavit. “He was behind me flashing the high beams. I flipped him the finger. I put my turn signal on. It’s just a blur; I can’t believe this. He didn’t do anything.”

At the time of his arrest, Ossman was even wearing Tattersall’s bullet-ridden coat.

Questioned about what occurred, Ossman replied: “Maybe a demon possessed me. Oh my God, I don’t know.”

In an interview with The Morning Call newspaper, Ossman’s mother noted her son hadn’t slept and had barely eaten for a week as he struggled with depression and his father’s recent death.

Barbara Ossman told the Allentown, Pa. daily that her troubled son informed police he was mentally ill and on medication to treat depression.

As for all the weapons, Ossman admitted they were his and loaded because he had been to a neighbouring shooting range the previous Sunday and Tuesday – the day before and the day after his father died.

As for Tattersall, who was buried April 26, he was well liked and respected.

“He was a good guy, it shouldn’t have happened,” Paul Tattersall, his brother and fellow trucker, told Truck News. “Nobody deserves what he got.”

The sibling plans to follow Ossman’s case, noting: “I want to be there (in Pennsylvania) as much as possible.”

“He was always in a good mood and always had good things to say,” recalled Michael Godeke, Tattersall’s insurance broker at Services d’Assurance Transport Expert Inc. in St. Hubert, Que.

Godeke described his client of more than five years and his wife as “two of the nicest people you’re ever going to meet.” He also referred to G.T.X. as “a very good, hard-working company.”

Tattersall’s wife, Assineth (Anita) Gavrielatos, is secretary of their small but successful trucking company.

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