Monday, March 26, 2007

Gutter: More rocks thrown, more intrigue sown

When I first posted yesterday about The Copycat Rock Thrower, the details were sketchy but terrifying: three days after the arrest of Jeffrey Angelo Ramous, aka The Parkway West Rock Thrower, someone took up Ramous’ cause, throwing rocks at cars traveling on the Parkway West Saturday night. I based yesterday’s post on the report that appeared on the Channel 2 website in the morning, but most of the details were similar to other reports.

Since yesterday morning, though, more details have emerged about The Copycat Rock Thrower, and Saturday night’s crime has grown more worrisome with each new piece of evidence.

But with the emergence of new details, some of the old information regarding the case has become, well, false. For instance, the initial reports on The Copycat Rock Thrower indicated that two vehicles were hit Saturday night, and the story became even more exceptional when it was reported that both vehicles were hit by one rock. I took the liberty of equating this scenario with the “JFK-magic bullet” theory, but it turns out that those details weren’t exactly accurate.

Now, with the wisdom of time, various news outlets have provided us with a far clearer picture of what happened Saturday night.

A quick overview of what has happened: around 8:30 PM Saturday night, two cars were hit with rocks near the Green Tree exit on the Parkway West. The first rock hit a taxi cab, but the driver was not injured. The second rock hit a Toyota Camry; the driver of that car had cuts on his face, but his passenger was unharmed. Later that night, reportedly around 2 AM, a third car was hit. Minor injuries were reported in the third incident.

You can find the sources for this summary at the following links: Channel 2, Channel 4, Channel 11, the Post-Gazette, and the Trib.

A note on these sources: each news outlet reported on this story, but they all have varying degrees of newsworthiness. For instance, Channel 2 leads the TV pack, as The Copycat Rock Thrower headlines the station’s website, and they feature two video reports along with a write-up. The write-up appears to contain all of the facts, save for the name of the driver of the Camry. This is interesting because the Channel 2 report from Sunday morning clearly states that David and Margaret Cosnek of Coraopolis were in the Camry when it was hit (this is the only source I can find online that names those two).

The other TV stations mailed it in on the websites, as Channel 4’s worthless drivel doesn’t provide much beyond very basic information, and Channel 11 still doesn’t even list the third incident from Saturday night.

On the print side, the Post-Gazette basically follows the Channel 2 report. But the real leader in today’s reporting on The Copycat Rock Thrower is the Trib. I didn’t like the Trib on Sunday because their site was running slow; well, they’ve made up for it today by providing the most informative and thought-provoking report available on The Copycat Rock Thrower.

In addition to the basic facts, Carl Prine starts his report by throwing this wrench into the gears of the rock-throwing legend:

The latest series of rock attacks against Parkway West motorists could have come from passing vehicles or from an overpass, state police said Sunday.

Passing vehicles? This is totally new speculation, as Ramous (The Parkway West Rock Thrower, in case you forgot) was a stationary rock-thrower, usually throwing from the Norfolk Southern Railroad trestle. The possibility of a rock being thrown from a passing vehicle is a major development that could drastically alter the police investigation. Some of this speculation comes from Cosnek, the driver of the Camry (who is not identified).

[Cosnek] said the rock might have been pitched from another automobile, not from the Norfolk Southern railroad trestle or a nearby highway bridge.

If that is the case, this would be a major development in the ongoing case of rocks being thrown at cars on the Parkway West. In the original investigation, state police nabbed Ramous through extensive surveillance, using night vision cameras and troopers hiding in the woods. But if these rocks are being thrown from passing vehicles, such antiquated means of police work would be ineffective.

In fact, this case could test even the mettle of super-cop Captain Sheldon Epstein. Luckily, the Green Tree police know that they can’t take this one down alone.

"We don't have any leads right now," said Green Tree Police Department officer Bob Monaco. "The Pennsylvania State Police are the primary investigators and this is an ongoing investigation."

While Monaco and the rest of the Green Tree fuzz are deferring to Pennsylvania’s Finest, one of the local officers apparently floated this theory to the Trib.

Authorities don't know if the latest are being carried out by a person who might have teamed with Ramous during his alleged rock-throwing spree or by a copycat.

And this little tidbit adds a bit more intrigue. See, I had been referring to this case as The Copycat Rock Thrower, which I will continue to do. But if this newest rock thrower is in fact a cohort of The Parkway West Rock Thrower, then we are facing a conspiracy, perhaps even a group of anarchists (such as the type suggested in this comment) who are hell-bent on taking out the travelers who choose the Parkway West.

This would play in with the ominous statement of Ralph Iannotti who, in his initial report on the arrest of The Parkway West Rock Thrower, said that state police “know the motive for Ramous’ actions, but they are not disclosing it at this time.” Perhaps state police found evidence that Ramous was part of an activist group, American extremists who are seeking to inflict damage on the Parkway West and its traveling inhabitants.

There are so many questions. At first, I was simply perplexed by the motives of The Parkway West Rock Thrower. Now, as the case has grown and become more mysterious, I have begun to wonder just how large the scope is. I can only hope that more details emerge and, more importantly, the authorities are able to curb these dastardly acts.

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