If you heard the sound of an aircraft circling in Seattle early Wednesday morning, it was likely the Washington State Patrol trying to track down rock-throwing scofflaws.
The State Patrol is searching for individuals throwing rocks and dropping concrete from Mount Baker, Rainier Avenue and other overpasses. Troopers and Seattle police are positioned nearby, ready to respond if the plane spots any activity on the ground after a report comes in, according to Trooper Rick Johnson.
Despite the arrests of a 35-year-old on Monday and a 40-year-old last week, he said, there remain individuals who are throwing rocks at cars on Interstate 5 and Interstate 90 during the night.
As of July 7, the State Patrol has received at least 84 reports of rocks being thrown at vehicles on Interstates 5 and 90, Johnson said. Although the figure is relatively similar to last year's, incidents on I-90 near Rainier Valley are on the rise, Johnson said.
"This is a serious public safety issue and we have a robust plan in place," Johnson said Wednesday. "We want this to come to an end."
In June, a driver on I-90 was hit in the face with a rock that went through his windshield, causing him to crash. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center with a serious cut on his face.
The State Patrol is encouraging drivers to report pedestrians they see on the freeway, even if they are not wielding rocks. Drivers should pull over, or park safely, and call 911, Johnson said.
These crimes are a high priority and require a collaborative effort among law enforcement and transportation agencies, state police said.
In addition to using aircraft to help find suspects, the State Patrol said it is sending more troopers to areas where rock-throwing has been reported and coordinating with the Washington State Department of Transportation to make sure cameras are on in areas of high-crime activity.