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MISSOULA — A University of Montana professor faces felony charges after allegedly threatening two men with a gun while driving on Highway 12 over the weekend.

Jerry R. Smith, 62, who teaches pharmaceutical sciences at UM, appeared in Justice Court Monday on two counts of assault with a weapon.

He told police he was driving on Highway 12 on Sunday when a passenger in another vehicle — Brady Donaldson — mooned him, court documents said. Smith said he was infuriated and pointed a rifle out the window, court records said.

But Donaldson and the man he was riding with, Charles Tuttle, said they were merely trying to pass Smith when he started pounding his fist on the console and making an obscene gesture.

The men said Smith sped up and held a "shiny metallic object" out the window, according to court records.

Tuttle said he turned off the highway to put some distance between them. But when he and Donaldson approached the highway again, they saw Smith waiting for them, court records said.

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The men said Smith was aiming a rifle at them and yelling threats, court records said. The two then stopped at a Lolo convenience store and called police.

Smith later told officers that he didn't point the rifle directly at the men.

Justice of the Peace John Odlin scheduled a preliminary hearing for July 11. Smith was released on $25,000 bail.

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