AUSTIN (KXAN) — Police on Thursday charged Patrick Eugene Johnson with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for throwing rocks at cars on Interstate 35. Police expect he’s responsible for the “lion’s share” of the 94 rock throwing incidents in Austin.
Police plan to file an attempted murder charge as well.
He’s well-known to Austin police, Austin City Council, even to us in the media, because of how active he is in reporting crimes and calling in news tips.
Most of the reports have been at night, where a driver can not see as well or take evasive action from an incoming rock.
Witnesses say Johnson showed up moments after he was hit by a car, appearing to be a Good Samaritan.
After one rock throwing incident, Johnson even took a picture and sent it to the KXAN Report It tip line.
A rock crashed through the front windshield of James Joseph’s pickup on May 28. It came from across the median and bounced off the console and through the sunroof, just barely missing his two sons.
“I knew exactly what had happened based on everything we’d seen on the news,” Joseph said.
Less than five minutes later, Joseph describes Johnson walking up to take pictures of the damage. He says Johnson didn’t check on the family, but went straight to taking photos to send to our newsroom.
“I knew something was wrong. I knew the coincidence. He mentioned that it had actually happened to him twice.” I showed Joseph the picture Johnson sent us of his car.
“It’s very strange,” he said. Too much of a coincidence. “In my mind without a doubt, he was there to put harm to my family.”
Now James Joseph wants justice. “Moving forward I hope they can tie him to as many cases as they think they can.”
According to police, information James Joseph and others gave detectives ended up pointing APD towards Patrick Johnson as a suspect.
Friends of one of the first victims are thankful
Kenneth Johnson was one of the first and most serious of rock throwing victims. In June 2014, Kenneth almost died when a rock smashed through his windshield.
He had to have part of his skull removed. His loved ones say they’re grateful justice is one step closer to being served. Friends say he’s come a long way since he was hurt.
Kenneth can walk and is conscious of what’s going on, but still has trouble speaking. He is living in Houston with his mom where he attends a rehabilitation facility.
A Round Rock woman was also severely hurt as well last November. Tina Morales suffered neck injuries when a rock smashed through the windshield. She still has scars. “I thought I got shot,” she said.