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It started as a war of words: the occupants of two vans sparring over speed and the use of the passing lane on Route 17 in Chautauqua County.

A beer bottle was thrown; the argument went on for miles.

"Eventually, a gun was pulled out and several shots were fired," Trooper Tim Nagle said Wednesday, as State Police at Falconer investigated a road-rage incident Wednesday that left a bullet lodged in a motorist's dashboard.

It began at about 5 p.m. on the eastbound Southern Tier Expressway in the Town of Randolph, police said. A 41-year-old local man driving a white minivan, traveling alone, tried to pass a full-sized van, with Ohio plates, occupied by two men.

Words were exchanged and erupted into an argument. The passenger in the larger van threw a beer bottle at the other motorist.

As both vans continued eastbound, the argument continued, police said. As the local motorist took the Randolph exit, several shots were fired by the other van's passenger, from what appeared to be a small-caliber handgun.

"He went to a pay phone (and) called 911," Nagle said.

"We have the vehicle," the trooper said. "A round was stuck in the dashboard."

No injuries were reported.

"He was upset," Nagle said of the local man. "The bullet just missed him by inches."

The other van was a Ford model, dark blue, police were told. It had windows in the back door but none on the sides.

The van was occupied by two white men: the driver had light-colored hair was approximately 30 years old and his passenger was about 40, with dark hair, a mustache and scruffy beard.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call State Police at 665-3113.

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