Wrongful death lawsuit filed in relation to deadly Golden Gate Estates road rage incident

Jake Allen
Naples Daily News
A memorial for David Norgard is pictured on Jan. 10, 2020, near the intersection in Golden Gate Estates where he was killed. Norgard was shot during a road rage incident near 16th Avenue Southwest and 23rd Street Southwest on March 1, 2019.

A grieving family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in connection with a Golden Gate Estates road rage incident that left one man dead and another free of charges based on the state's stand your ground law.  

The lawsuit names Israel Elledias, 50, of Golden Gate Estates, as the defendant and shooter. His name has not been released in public documents related to the incident, with officials saying he was the victim.

The lawsuit was filed on March 18 on behalf of David Norgard's mother, Sylvia Norgard, a little more than a year after his death.  

Norgard, 24, of Golden Gate Estate, was taken to Physicians Regional-Pine Ridge after the shooting and died about 30 minutes after his arrival.   

Elledias enticed Norgard, engaging him in an altercation in the seconds leading to the shooting by luring him to the window of his truck, the lawsuit states.  

The defendant then retrieved a semi-automatic pistol from a magnetic dashboard gun holster and killed David Norgard in the middle of the street, according to the lawsuit.  

Norgard sustained two gunshot wounds to the chest near the intersection of 16th Avenue Southwest and 23rd Street Southwest around 9 p.m. March 1, 2019, according to an investigation by the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.  

Neither the sheriff's office nor the State Attorney's Office 20th Judicial Circuit released the shooter’s identity. Both redacted the shooter’s name and other identifying information from public records, citing Marsy’s Law.

Previous coverage:State Attorney's Office: Fatal road rage shooting justified under Stand Your Ground law

More:What is Florida's Stand Your Ground law? A Miami law professor explains the basics

Marsy’s Law can be used by public institutions to prevent the disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass a victim or a victim's family. 

The shooter was a victim of battery during the incident, according to the sheriff’s office and State Attorney’s Office.  

The shooter was cleared of criminal wrongdoing a few months after the incident by the sheriff’s and state attorney’s offices. Both entities stated Norgard’s death was a justifiable homicide based on Stand Your Ground law. 

The shooter’s identity  

Christopher Brown, a Fort Myers attorney representing Sylvia Norgard in the lawsuit, said his office hired an investigator who spent months pouring over evidence, talking to people and chasing down leads to learn the identity of the shooter.  

Brown is confident Elledias is the man who shot and killed David Norgard and said his office will be able to get unredacted records via subpoena as a confirmation in the future.

“We waited a long time to file this case to make absolutely certain we were right,” Brown said Friday.   

When reached by telephone for comment for this story, Elledias referred questions to his attorney Mark Yeslow, of Fort Myers, and refused to comment.   

Yeslow did not return a request for comment before publication of this story.  

Evidence in the lawsuit  

Witnesses indicate the shooter’s truck was preventing David Norgard’s vehicle from passing by swerving and blocking the roadway before the shooting, according to the lawsuit.  

Immediately after the shooting and prior to the arrival of law enforcement or emergency medical services, the shooter was seen by witnesses “pacing vigorously and striking himself in the head repeatedly,” the lawsuit states.  

The shooter told detectives he was punched in the ear during a struggle with David Norgard before the shooting, according to records from the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.  

In his report, a detective wrote the shooter had a red and swollen ear after the incident, although none of the sheriff’s office reports mention the shooter receiving medical attention for the ear injury or any other injury.   

Photos taken of Elledias after the shooting are inconsistent with claims that he was struck in the head by Norgard, according to the lawsuit.  

“We will present crime scene photos of the side of his (Elledias’) head and face which are clearly inconsistent with him being punched in the ear by a healthy, fit, 24-year-old man,” a statement from Norgard’s family reads.  

The lawsuit states Norgard was not armed during the incident, which is consistent with law enforcement reports.  

Elledias complained about how long the investigation into Norgard’s death was taking during his detention after the shooting, according to the lawsuit.  

The lawsuit points out Elledias and his wife were the only two witnesses to the actual shooting other than Norgard.  

The identity of a female occupant of the shooter’s vehicle, who was interviewed by detectives after the shooting, has not been released in public documents.

She is the wife of the shooter, Beth Elledias, according to the lawsuit.   

Statement from the Norgard family  

Sylvia Norgard and her family are not trying to make a political statement by filing the lawsuit, are strong supporters of the Second Amendment and stand behind the right of Floridians to self-defense, according to a statement.  

“However, deadly force should only be used when you think someone is going to kill you or your loved one,” according to the statement. “You don’t have the right to shoot an unarmed man down, like a dog, in the street.”  

The lawsuit states Norgard's family hopes that the civil trial provides information that will cause the state attorney’s office to reconsider its decision and pursue a murder charge against Israel Elledias.  

“There is not statute of limitations on murder so this fight will go on,” the statement reads. 

Israel Elledias’ gun was loaded with hollow point ammunition, according to the Norgard family’s statement.  

“This ammo is designed not to neutralize threats but to ensure shots to the thorax will kill,” according to the statement. “It did its job.”  

David Norgard worked as a high-rise window washer before he was was shot and killed during a road rage incident near 16th Avenue Southwest and 23rd Street Southwest in Golden Gate Estates on March 1, 2019.

Norgard’s family hopes to prove Elledias initiated the incident by blocking David from passing him, then stopping when David stopped and inviting him over, according to the statement.  

“During this entire time he could have simply driven away but then, we will argue, he would not have had a chance to shoot somebody; and that is what he wanted to do,” the statement reads.  

The lawsuit was served to Israel Elledias on Wednesday, according to the statement.  

The shooter’s account  

The shooter was interviewed by two detectives away from the scene of the road rage incident, at a Collier County Sheriff’s Office location, after the shooting.

It began when he noticed a small green car driving too closely behind him, the shooter said. The shooter told detectives he “tapped” his brakes to get the driver of the green car to back off, but the car got even closer, according to the report.

The driver attempted to pass him and the shooter sped up, the shooter told detectives.   

The shooter then slowed down to turn east onto 16th Avenue Southwest from 23rd Street Southwest. 

When the shooter slowed his vehicle, the green car passed the shooter on the wrong side of the road, quickly turned in front of the shooter's vehicle and abruptly stopped in the middle of the road, the shooter told detectives.   

He had to stop to avoid hitting the green car, the shooter told detectives.   

After he stopped, a young man got out of the car in front of him so quickly that “he didn’t have time to do anything,” he said.   

The young man was yelling at the shooter to get out of his vehicle as he walked toward him and was at the shooter’s door within seconds, the shooter told detectives.   

The shooter “began to open the door out of reaction” and the young man got between the door and the shooter and was blocking the shooter from exiting his truck, the shooter told detectives.   

The man began punching the shooter and the shooter reached for his pistol with his right hand as he pushed the young man back with his left hand, the shooter told detectives.   

The shooter told the young man to stop and attempted to push him away. When the young man resisted, the shooter turned the pistol and shot him twice, the shooter told detectives.   

The shooter put the pistol on the driver’s seat of his vehicle after the incident, he told investigators.   

When asked why he shot the young man, identified by the sheriff’s office as Norgard, the shooter said it was “to stop the threat,” according to the sheriff’s office report.