BREAKING: Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo just announced on Twitter that APD has apprehended a suspect in the nearly two year long fight to capture the I35 rock thrower. The offender who has caused accidents, property damage, and occasionally severe human injury in more than 80 different incidents. At the end of May a reward of $25,000 was announced to engage the public in attempting to bring this person to justice. More info to follow.
Proud to announce our APD team has made an arrest on the serial rock assailant case. I'm grateful for the work of our men & women. MTF
— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) June 16, 2016
Updates from the Austin American Statesman after APD press conference:
Patrick Eugene Johnson, 59, has been charged with attempted aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, a third-degree felony punishable with up to 10 years in prison. Police Chief Art Acevedo says that Johnson is responsible for “the lion’s share” of the rock throwing incidents and that he expects Johnson to face other charges including attempted murder.
“Mr. Johnson’s likely going to spend the rest of his life in prison once we’re done with him,” Acevedo said.
The University of Texas Police Department sent in a tip that led APD to the suspect. One UTPD officer was almost struck in mid-May but did not report the incident because his car was not struck. An APD detective was later able to review the dashboard cam from the UTPD car to gather some details about the offender’s vehicle.
From there they determine that the car belonged to Johnson. They then brought Johnson and his 19-year-old roommate in for questioning where his roommate gave a statement that he was a witness in at least two incidents. Detectives found some evidence inside the car that linked Johnson to the crimes. Motive for Johnson’s actions is still unknown.
Johnson has admitted to two of the incidents, but there is a chance that there are still some copycat rock throwers out there. APD has two other copycat suspects in custody, as well. To any other copycats Acevedo says, “Here’s my message to the copycats: we are going to stop you.”
And for those curious about that $25,000 reward — it’s staying in the hands of its original owners for now, as Johnson was already an APD suspect. However, if there is a copycat still on the loose, some of the reward may still be offered for information.