California Highway Patrol officials say they have arrested the man they believe has been throwing boulders – some the size of footballs – at cars on Interstate 5 in Sacramento over two months, injuring several drivers whose windshields were smashed.
Officials say the man is suspected of up to five cases of rock throwing off overpasses around Florin Road, South Land Park Drive and Pocket Road.
The man was identified as Pedro Ruiz Espinoza, 47, a parolee who has two prior arrests for similar rock-throwing assaults in Sacramento, CHP spokesman Adrian Quintero said.
The arrest was made on Christmas Day in the Pocket neighborhood near South Land Park Drive after an off-duty CHP officer saw the suspect on a distinctive green cruiser bike with chrome wheels.
Quintero said officials had been on the lookout for the rock tosser for the last month, employing helicopters, planes and freeway cameras. Officials initially kept the investigation quiet so they would not scare the suspect away, Quintero said.
But fearing for public safety, officials were about to issue a news release this week warning drivers and asking for help in tracking down the suspect.
Several drivers were injured by the boulders, including one woman who lost control of her vehicle and smashed into a freeway sound wall after a boulder smashed through her windshield. Her injuries were minor, Quintero said. A passenger in a pickup truck suffered lacerations in a separate incident when a boulder smashed a 6-inch round hole through the windshield and ended up on the floor behind the driver’s seat.
“Officers from the South Sacramento Area office have been working tirelessly to locate and apprehend this individual,” the CHP said in a news release. “The incidents could have caused major injury or death to those affected by these incidents.”