- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 15, 2004

An object that police believe was a marble-sized rock shattered the windshield of a car yesterday morning on Interstate 95 in Howard County between Baltimore and the District — the fifth such incident in the area in 17 days.

Maryland State Police officials called the string of rock-hurling attacks a “dangerous” pattern.

The incident yesterday occurred about 9 a.m., when a black Acura traveling south on Interstate 95, just south of Route 32, was struck by an object that shattered the windshield on the driver’s side, according to police.

Investigators are convinced the object is not a bullet fired from a gun, but they have not determined what the object is or how and from where it was propelled. The object responsible for the damage has not been found in any of the five incidents, police said.

About an hour after yesterday’s attack, a driver reported to police seeing a rock propelled out of the woods along I-95 a few miles south of where the Acura was hit. It was unclear where each of the five attacks originated from, though thick woods line the highway throughout the area.

The driver of the Acura, a woman, was not hurt. But she appeared shaken as she spoke with investigators yesterday on the shoulder of I-95 just north of the Little Patuxent River.

Police converged on the scene with nine cars, three sport utility vehicles, two vans and a Maryland State Police helicopter circling overhead. Police closed the far-left lane of I-95 as they interviewed the driver and searched for suspects, causing minor backups for the morning rush-hour traffic.

Investigators said the attacks are not similar to recent rock-throwing attacks on vehicles in Montgomery County, because those cases involved minivans, pick-up trucks and sport utility vehicles. All but one of the Howard County attacks targeted cars. State police are working with Rockville, Montgomery and Howard county authorities.

State police are asking anyone who witnessed an attack or suspicious activity along I-95 in Howard County to call 410/799-2101 or dial 77 on a cell phone, which contacts police. “We need as many eyes on this as we can get,” said Capt. Heber Watts of the Maryland State Police.

No one has been injured in any of the attacks, but Capt. Watts told The Washington Times yesterday that hurling rocks or other objects at traffic poses a “high potential for injury or death.”

“This involves vehicles traveling at high speeds. By shattering a windshield, you can distract a driver who can lose control of the car and very quickly hit a barrier or another vehicle,” Capt. Watts said. “This is dangerous.”

The attacks began March 30, at 5:50 p.m. with the shattering of the side window on the driver’s side of a Ford Taurus traveling north on I-95 just north of Route 175. At 10:30 p.m. the same day in the same area, the right rear side window was shattered on a Mitsubishi Montero.

The next reported attack occurred April 3 at about 9 a.m., when an object shattered the sunroof of a Pontiac Grand Prix traveling south on I-95 just north of Route 32.

On Wednesday, an object cracked the front windshield of a Lincoln Town Car traveling south on I-95 just north of Route 100.

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