Chief: Rock thrower could face 3 counts of attempted murder

ADP Chief Art Acevedo gives next step in rock throwing cases (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The mounting number of I-35 rock throwing cases almost turned deadly with one driver suffering from life-altering injuries.

“We’re not happy with just one count of attempted aggravated assault,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. “We believe that when we’re done we’ll have at least one if not up to three counts of attempted murder.”

Acevedo joined us in the KXAN studio to discuss the next steps for the case. Patrick Eugene Johnson, 59, was booked into the Travis County Jail around 4 a.m. Thursday and charged with attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He is the main suspect in the rock throwing cases.

Among the three people seriously injured, was one of the first victim’s Kenneth Johnson [no relation], who suffered severe head trauma when a rock blasted through his windshield and hit him.

Patrick Eugene Johnson, pictured in a Williamson County mugshot.
Patrick Eugene Johnson, pictured in a Williamson County mugshot.

“We’re confident we’re going to tie [Johnson] into a lion’s share of the cases,” said Acevedo. “From my perspective any attempt to throw the type of rocks Mr. Johnson was throwing after that incident where’e he’s clearly unnoticed that his conduct is deadly, his conduct is extremely dangerous.”

However, there could be other rock throwers out there. One copy cat has already been arrested.

“This isn’t a game, this is deadly conduct,” said Acevedo.

So far Johnson has confessed to two cases and police believe they have evidence that might link him to more. “I think with this arrest people are much safer,” said Acevedo.

“[Johnson] has kind of been a thorn on the side of most people,” said Acevedo referencing Johnson’s prevalence with the media reporting the cases. Johnson would act like a “Good Samaritan” and come back to the scenes where the attacks occurred. Officers think the rock throwings might have been in retaliation for the previous charges filed against Johnson.

In a message to survivors, Acevedo said “sorry it took this long, it was a tough case to crack, I’m just glad we caught him and can get justice.”

Just because a suspect is in custody, Acevedo wants to remind drivers to watch out for and report any suspicious activity they see near roadways.

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