APD investigates if interstate incident was rock-throwing

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police are investigating a new case of a shattered windshield of a driver on Interstate 35. It’s not clear yet if the incident involved a rock thrown from an overpass.

In a statement Thursday morning, APD said they can’t confirm the item that struck the windshield was a rock or if it was thrown from a bridge or was just debris kicked up by passing vehicles. Police say the rock incident happened near the 12th Street bridge. The item did not go through the windshield, but it did shatter.

There have been several incidents that have been targeting Interstate 35 drivers since the summer. If confirmed, Thursday morning’s case would mark the 14th new case in the months-long string.

During the Halloween weekend alone, six new cases of people throwing rocks at cars along I-35 were reported, police said. Authorities also said they received three similar reports in October, in addition to the four cases filed this summer. The first incident during the Halloween weekend happened Saturday, Nov. 1, on an overpass between 30th and 40th streets. Police say the person is throwing rocks at cars on the lower deck. The five other cases happened on Sunday, Nov. 2, in the same area. One person suffered minor injuries.

Austin police also revealed that three other rock-throwing reports were made on Sunday, Oct. 12.

The issue came to the forefront this past summer when four incidents were reported in June and July. In one instance, 36-year-old Kenneth Johnson suffered a severe head injury after a rock smashed through his windshield.

Police said all the rocks were about the size of a softball and appear to have come from the same place. Authorities still are not sure if it is the work of one person, or a group, but they are working with homeless people in the area to track down new leads.

Rock-throwing from overpasses not uncommon

Rock throwing incidents happen often around the country. Earlier this year police near Weatherford, Texas arrested two teenagers accused of throwing rocks and railroad spikes at cars on I-20. One spike hit a woman in the face. She is recovering and the teenagers face charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

And two other teenagers in White Deer Township, Pennsylvania face charges after a rock throwing incident along I-80. Police say they were throwing rocks at cars; one hit a woman in the head leaving her critically hurt.

In order to cut down on people throwing rocks, other cities and states have put up fences on overpasses. A Texas Department of Transportation spokeswoman said it would not be feasible in Austin to put up fences because the city has so many elevated structures.

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