Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Peak: A new rock-throwing suspect

Due to certain professional and social obligations, I’ve been off the clock a bit on all the latest news on local rock-throwing. But I’m back at it now, and not a moment too soon.

Let’s review:

Thursday, March 22 - State police arrest Jeffrey Angelo Ramous, the alleged Parkway West Rock Thrower. Ramous admitted to two years of throwing bricks and large stones. State police say that they know Ramous’ motives, but they are not disclosing that information. Intrigue grows.

Friday, March 23 - The state police promote Lt. Sheldon Epstein to the rank of captain. Epstein was a member of the crack team of investigators that took down Ramous.

Saturday, March 24 – A copycat emerges, as more rocks are thrown on the Parkway West. Details are sketchy but terrifying.

Sunday, March 25 - More details emerge about the copycat.

Monday, March 26 - State police announce plans to increase their surveillance of the Parkway West.

Wednesday, March 28 - Panic and paranoia spread, as a wayward wrench socket drops off an overpass on the Parkway East. Undue connections are drawn. Facts later catch up to hype.

Thursday, March 29 - A preliminary hearing is held for Ramous, where state police testify that he told them that he threw rocks after drinking and smoking weed.

Thursday, April 5 - New rock-throwing occurs when two vehicles were hit within moments of each other. Despite the chronological proximity, the two attacks are geographically separated, with one happening on the Parkway West near Campbell’s Run Road and the other taking place in Robinson. I missed this one due to the aforementioned (but not specified) professional and social obligations.

Okay then. We’re up to date. Let’s move forward.

This case originally intrigued me because of its rather bizarre nature (which has been outlined in my previous blog posts on the subject), and the latest developments have followed suit. As reported in a number of news outlets, including the Trib and the Post-Gazette, state police collared another suspected rock-thrower yesterday.

This new rock-thrower has not been identified by the police, although word has gotten out that he is a 19-year-old white male from Westmoreland County. Where things get interesting is in the details of his detainment.

Apparently, this 19-year-old was driving outbound on the Parkway West late Monday night when he lost control of his car and crashed between the Green Tree and Carnegie exits. Sounds normal enough: even I have been in a car crash between the Green Tree and Carnegie exits going outbound on the Parkway West. But when police were called to the scene, they made a rather startling discovery. From the Trib:

Rocks found in his car "are consistent with rocks found along the Parkway West," Trooper Robin Mungo, a state police spokeswoman, said in a statement.

The Trib article goes on to state that police “took [the 19-year-old] into custody after they became suspicious of things he said and the rocks in his car.”

All the news outlets claim that the 19-year-old admitted to police that he had thrown rocks at cars. While the state police did not arrest the 19-year-old, his statements were bizarre enough that they did take further action. Again, from the Trib:

Authorities involuntarily committed the man yesterday morning to an undisclosed hospital for evaluation…

The Trib also tells us that the 19-year-old’s evaluation is psychiatric in nature. What interests me about this course of action is that Ramous also admitted to throwing rocks when he was initially arrested (although he now claims innocence), but the state police did not see a need to have him committed. Perhaps they are building a case against the 19-year-old and they fear that he is a flight risk, so they have concocted this psychiatric evaluation as a means to detain him without due cause. I would assume that the rocks found in his car are being tested for ballistics or some marking that would tie them to the point of rock-throwing attack.

It’s interesting that while “Police have been using thermo-imaging cameras to catch the people who they think are responsible” (WTAE), in the end all it took was finding some rocks in some guy’s car.

I’m not sure what just yet, but something seems very odd about this latest development in the rock-throwing case.

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