Rock throwing suspect linked to most severe case

Patrick Eugene Johnson (Austin Police Department)
Patrick Eugene Johnson (Austin Police Department)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man accused of the “lion’s share” of rock throwing cases along Interstate 35, has been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with one of the most severe cases.

Pat Johnson’s, 59, newest charge is related to the injuries sustained by Kenneth Johnson [no relation] on June 14, 2014. Kenneth was driving northbound on the lower deck of I-35 when his Nissan Pathfinder was hit by a softball-sized rock. According to an arrest affidavit, the rock smashed through the windshield, hitting Kenneth in the throat and breaking his jaw. Kenneth suffered a severe head injury and later a stroke.

According to court records, the suspect made a 911 call to police around the same time they were responding to Kenneth’s incident. In the call, Johnson told police he saw the driver swerve and hit a median, but said he did not see anything thrown.

In the past month, suspicions were raised after Johnson showed up at several rock throwing scenes, spoke to the victims and reportedly took pictures Police say he called 911 numerous times to report cases as well as being in the vicinity where attacks were reported.

Kenneth Johnson continues recovering in a rehabilitation hospital after he was hit by a rock while driving on the I-35 lower deck.
FILE – Kenneth Johnson continues recovering in a rehabilitation hospital after he was hit by a rock while driving on the I-35 lower deck. (KXAN File Photo)

“After committing his crimes, his cowardly crimes, he came back to the scene acting as a Good Samaritan, acting as a witness,” said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo last week during a news conference.

IN-DEPTH COVERAGE:

Even though Johnson’s name was in the mix of possible suspects, police say a dash camera video from a University of Texas at Austin patrol car helped the process along.

According to an arrest affidavit, a UTPD police officer was driving northbound on I-35 approaching E. 51st Street around 2:34 a.m. on May 14, 2016 when he saw an “object projected from the southbound traffic lanes.” The officer said while the object didn’t hit his patrol car, he did run over it. The officer did activate his dash camera and was able to capture video of a suspect vehicle traveling “by itself and was the only candidate source for the rock.”

After reviewing the video, police say they were able to link the suspect vehicle to Johnson’s vehicle. The court records go on to say Johnson called 911 to report something in the roadway approximately 16 minutes after the UTPD rock throwing case.

On Wednesday, June 15, detectives interviewed Johnson and his roommate was brought in for questioning. According to the affidavit, Johnson admitted to throwing rocks from his vehicle on I-35. Johnson’s roommate admitted to police he was in the vehicle at the time of the May 14 case and “witnessed on at least two separate incidents Johnson throw a rock out of his vehicle towards vehicles” on I-35. In regards to Kenneth’s injuries, Johnson’s roommate told police when they talked about his injuries Johnson said his demeanor was “sad” and he indicated that “he did not think anyone would get hurt.”

In regards to Kenneth’s injuries, Johnson’s roommate told police when they talked about his injuries Johnson’s demeanor appeared “sad” and he indicated that “he did not think anyone would get hurt.”

Johnson is currently in custody at the Travis County Jail. His bond is set at $850,000.

On KXAN News at 5 p.m. Chris Sadeghi speaks to Kenneth’s famly and how they’re reacting to the news that someone is charged with the crime two years after the attack on Kenneth.

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