Monday, April 2, 2007

Gutter: The love song of J. Angelo Ramous

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, ‘What is it?’
Let us go and make our visit.

- T.S. Eliot

Last Thursday, the ongoing saga of Jeffrey Angelo Ramous, aka The Parkway West Rock Thrower, hit a culmination of sorts when Ramous stood before District Judge Gary Zyra in a preliminary hearing. And while the preliminary hearing, in which Zyra ordered Ramous to stand trial on 10 counts each of aggravated assault, propulsion of a missile, risking a catastrophe, and recklessly endangering another person, isn’t an end to the intrigue of The Parkway West Rock Thrower, it represents perhaps the biggest development in the case since Ramous’ arrest on March 22nd.

(A note of attribution: clearly this blog is a few days behind, so in case you missed it, the Post-Gazette and the Trib both had detailed articles on the preliminary hearing, and I drew my information from those two newspapers.)

Much of what was learned at the preliminary hearing corroborates the information that was made public at the time of Ramous’ arrest: in the last two years, Ramous, 49, threw more than 100 bricks and large stones at cars from the Norfolk Southern Railroad trestle onto cars on the Parkway West, reportedly hitting 12 vehicles over that span.

We also get some new information regarding the case, such as this interesting bit from the P-G:

Mr. Ramous said he used police scanners to monitor the activities of law enforcement in the area and rail traffic. Three scanners were recovered from Mr. Ramous' residence in an apartment complex behind Rocky's Lounge, where he worked, in Scott.

But while it is notable to mention Ramous’ timing of his attacks (reminiscent of the way racers monitored police scanners in that great 21st century cinematic epic The Fast and the Furious), that info is but a minor technical detail, a mere sidebar to what we really want to know about the case of The Parkway West Rock Thrower, that is to say, the primary question at the heart of this mysterious saga, succinctly summed up as one simple word:


It is an inevitable question, and anyone who heard of Ramous’ attacks over the past two years inevitably considered it: why would someone stand over the Parkway West and rain down terror on travelers?

Of course, the first impulse was to dismiss the attacks as pranks on the part of small-minded juveniles, adolescents who couldn’t see the potentially horrific results of their actions. And with that notion, much of Allegheny County was able to move past the attacks, secure in the belief that the only thing separating the rock-throwing from other pranks such as egging or pumpkin-smashing was the possible severity of the acts.

But when Ramous was arrested, things became a bit more mysterious, if not altogether sinister. Here was a 49-year old man from Scott Township, a dishwasher/cook at Rocky’s Lounge, a bar near his apartment. He was a generally non-descript man whose neighbors spoke well of. But those neighbors didn’t know what happened at night, when Ramous would go out to the old train trestle and terrorize travelers on the Parkway.

And to add to the intrigue, KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti gave us this ominous statement in his original report on the arrest, which I discussed at the time:

State police tell us they know the motive for Ramous’ actions, but they are not disclosing it at this time.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that quote blew my doors off. On top of all the mystery surrounding Ramous and his arrest, we had reason to believe that there was some greater motive, some beyond-imagination cause behind his actions. I didn’t know what that motive was, and I speculated on a number of different possibilities. But whatever the motive turned out to be, there was a feeling that maybe, just maybe, this all meant something. With a statement like that from the state police, I saw the possibility that we may have found a real activist in our midst, someone who felt so strongly and so passionately about his beliefs that he took to action. I disagreed with his actions, as throwing rocks at traffic on the Parkway West is dangerous and potentially life-threatening, but I admired his dedication to his cause, whatever that cause may have been. In this day and age when it seems that so few people are really capable of greatness through action, I thought that we may have really found a man of belief.

But in reality, we learned from the preliminary hearing that Ramous was not a man of belief; rather, he just liked to get drunk and stoned and throw rocks at cars.

[Ramous] told police he got a "sense of euphoria" from throwing rocks and bricks at vehicles traveling on the Parkway West and often did so after drinking alcohol or smoking marijuana, a state police trooper testified Thursday. (From the Trib)

Are you kidding me? A sense of euphoria? You 49-year-old-alcoholic-burnout. What the hell is wrong with you? You threw rocks at cars driving over 65 mph on a major highway, and for what? People could have died, and for what? I’m not saying that it would have been okay if Ramous had a reason, but if you’re going to do it, do it for a cause, make it worth something.

State Trooper Francis Murphy, who investigated the rock throwings, testified that Mr. Ramous, 49, told police he threw projectiles…intending to cause accidents.

Trooper Murphy said Mr. Ramous told them he would stand on the catwalk of the railway trestle between the Green Tree and Carnegie exits facing away from Downtown Pittsburgh and throw rocks or bricks found in a nearby refuse pile until he either saw an impact or heard "screeches and screams." (From the P-G)

You are a sick S.O.B., Ramous. You have 40 charges against you, and I hope they get you on every single one. This is my ninth blog post on Jeffrey Angelo Ramous, aka The Parkway West Rock Thrower, and I hope that number 10 is in reference to the severe sentencing of the aforementioned rock thrower.

1 comment:

Bram Reichbaum said...

Here's my take.

Police "knew the reason" for it, but weren't disclosing it. They knew it was because Mister PWRT is batshit crazy-go-nuts.

Of course, they can't *realease* that, because they'd prefer to find him guilty, not insane.

PWRT's lawyers must be smelling this, because "it gave him a sense of euphoria" can be interpreted as "It wasn't me! It's my damn hypothalamus, releasing these hormones!"

Of course, what the criminally insane gain lighter sentances, they may lose in severity ...